Video of Police Pulling Over Driverless Car Viewed 1.2 Million Times

A video of a driverless car being pulled over by police in San Francisco has been watched more than 1.2 million times.

B.rad916 posted a clip on Instagram of a self-driving car belonging to General Motors' Cruise line interacting with San Francisco Police Department officers. They were trying to stop the vehicle driving down in the Richmond District for failing to have its headlights on, GM revealed.

San Francisco Cruise driverless vehicle AV
A Cruise car in a street in San Francisco. A Cruise vehicle was pulled over by SFPD for failing to have its headlights on. Cruise

In the video, an SFPD officer gets out of the police car and a voice can be heard saying "Ain't nobody in it." The officer looks inside the car and tries to open the driver's door, but walks away from the vehicle when that remains locked.

The driverless car then immediately drives on for a few feet before turning on its yellow lights and stopping on the right-hand side of the road. The police vehicle follows suit and two officers approach the car.

Many social media users have identified that move as an attempted escape from the driverless car, but a Cruise spokesperson told The Verge that the vehicle was just looking for a safer location to stop.

Passersby can be heard saying: "Are you serious?" and: "Oh my god I have to watch this," before asking the man taking the video to send the clip to them. One officer can then be seen on a call while the other observes the car, with observers laughing and saying "That's so weird!"

SFPD police officers then continue circling the car and looking inside, apparently confused about how to proceed. A third police officer appears at the end of the clip.

The vehicle, a GM Cruise-converted Chevy Bolt, was one of the several company's self-driving cars GM has used since 2017 to give its employees rides around the city, and now also deploys to deliver Walmart groceries.

In February this year, GM offered free rides to non-employees on its Cruise driverless vehicles for the first time.

Cruise responded to Electrek's journalist Seth Weintraub sharing the viral clip on Twitter by saying that "our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended. An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued."

"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 added in a second tweet.

A video from Cruise explaining how the vehicles interact with police and emergency vehicles says that Cruise cars can pick up emergency sirens and lights from police. The video instructs first responders to contact the Cruise critical response line when approaching the vehicle to make sure that the vehicle has safely stopped and to see if it's cruising on autonomous or manual mode.

The Cruise team can then evaluate whether to unlock the vehicle.

According to U.S. regulations, driverless cars must respect the same standards of safety required by traditional passenger cars. Cruise told Newsweek that the issue that led to the vehicle being stopped last week has been fixed.

Newsweek has reached out to the SFPD for comment.