It's a law enforcement riddle for our time: What happens if you pull over a driverless vehicle?
One answer is that bystanders enjoy the spectacle more than officers appear to, judging from a three-minute viral video below.
"Ain't nobody in it," a man shouts as the first of three San Francisco cops approaches the General Motors Cruise test car, which stopped when police lights flashed behind it -- apparently because its headlights were off at night.
The autonomous Chevy Bolt then bolts forward until it clears an intersection and pulls over again, with emergency flashers activated.
"Are you serious?" a woman crossing the street says to a friend. "We're gonna have to watch this."
A real-life comedy skit unfolds as three apparently puzzled officers walk around the car and peer at its empty seats. One tries a locked door and later uses his cell phone, presumably calling a supervisor.
The curbside clip, originally on Instagram, has been played nearly 200,000 times since going on YouTube last Saturday. That got the GM subsidiary's attention:
We work closely with the SFPD on how to interact with our vehicles, including a dedicated phone number for them to call in situations like this.— cruise (@Cruise) April 10, 2022
"The humorous episode highlights some of the situations that can occur as driverless cars become more common on city streets," posts CNBC.
Cruise, a GM subsidiary, started to offer nighttime rides to the public earlier this year in San Francisco in driverless cars, although it's not yet charging and riders need to apply for a waitlist.
Cruise was founded in 2013 and bought by GM three years later. It's the core of the Detroit automaker's self-driving research and development efforts.
GM says in a blog post last month:
Cruise has developed its autonomous vehicle technology via a fleet of upgraded Chevy Bolt EVs. The upgraded Bolts have successfully roamed the streets of San Francisco without a human pilot on board, much to the astonishment of members of the public who have taken a ride.
Astonishment spreads beyond the public to include uniformed patrol officers, evidently. In an effort to educate them, the company last November posted a 19-minute guide for first responders on "Interacting with a Cruise Autonomous Vehicle." It suggests calling a 24-hour help line before approaching.
Here's the more entertaining recent video: