By now, we've all seen the footage of San Francisco police stopping a fully driverless Cruise taxi, and quickly realizing that "ain't nobody in there." Then we saw the car unexpectedly take off, motoring through an intersection, safely and legally — though we're all figuring out the safe and legal nuances of robots on the road as they occur. We all could only imagine how the police would have reacted if there was a human being behind the wheel.
"Why was this driverless car behaving as if it was completely drunk?" reads one tweet. "If an officer pulled me over and then I moved forward to a safe spot, they'd say I was evading and arrest me. So why wasn't that car arrested? [Laughing emoji]," said a YouTube comment. "The police were confused? The car looked confused," said a comment on this website; another read: "Bad cars, Bad cars, Whatcha gonna do?"
"Welcome to the future. Cop pulls over driverless car (because no lights?) Then Cruise goes on the lamb," read another tweet. (We're going to be the grammar police and pull over that last sentence: "lamb" is a young sheep; "going on the lam" means running away or being a fugitive from the law.) Also, the story was all over the morning programs this morning, including CBS Mornings, as seen below.
how tf you gonna have a self driving car and still be shit at driving and driving etiquette?— Coby Richards (@TOASTisGOD13) April 12, 2022
Fittingly, and with no small degree of irony, the traffic stop happened on April First, and even the big guns pulled out their best puns. CNN reported that the now-infamous Cruise taxi is known as 'Rigatoni.' "For a minute, it looked like Rigatoni was in hot water," CNN said.
Cue rimshot here.
In what seems like the start of a bad 1980s sci-fi movie where the machines eventually rise up against their prideful, self-congratulating inventors, it has been a long, inevitable road to get to the point where even law enforcement is visibly flummoxed on what to do with an AV that isn't following the rules of the road. In March, the first permits were granted to Alphabet-owned Waymo and General Motors-owned Cruise — the unwitting comedic star of this story — to provide autonomous-vehicle taxi service to paid passengers.
In October of last year, residents in the Richmond District — where the driver-less Cruise taxi was pulled over — appeared to have witnessed the training of robot cars in the art of the three-point turn . . . over, and over, and over again. People described hearing the low hum of the electric, autonomous SUVs late into the night, as they went to bed. "There are some days where it can be up to 50,” said one person."It's literally every five minutes."
An investigation by the San Francisco Examiner "bears out what’s obvious to city residents: The streets of San Francisco have become a giant, photogenic AV test course where this technology will show its promise and perils in real time."
Lets not forget the original self-driving outrage: the Tesla. In January, the New York Times ran a full-page ad declaring, "We did not sign up our families to be crash test dummies for thousands of Tesla cars." (The ad was, however, affiliated with a rival self-driving software company.)
Stephen Colbert, who owns a Tesla — which he described as a "golf cart that had sex with a pegasus" — commented in 2015 about his car's ability to receive software updates overnight via the automobiles Wi-Fi. "There are so many sudden changes overnight with your car, it's like your car is going through puberty."
One of those software updates was the semi-autonomous-driving feature. "Finally, a high-tech alternative to jamming a brick on the gas pedal and jumping in the back seat," Colbert said.