Autonomous cars driving city streets in California have run red lights, blocked emergency vehicles, and injured a pedestrian. But can they get tickets from police officers?
Probably not, according to some experts.
In an internal memo from San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, obtained by NBC, he instructs officers that “no citation for a moving violation can be issued if the [vehicle] is being operated in a driverless mode.”
“Technology evolves rapidly and, at times, faster than legislation or regulations can adapt to the changes,” Mr. Scott said in the memo.
Michael Stephenson, founder and senior attorney at Bay Area Bicycle Law, a law firm that specializes in representing cyclists, told the news station that driverless vehicles don’t fit into the state’s current legal framework.
“We’re perhaps trying to shove a square peg into a round hole,” Stephenson said. “We are very much in the wild west when it comes to driverless cars.”
California has become a testing ground for the newest vehicle technology in recent years. Several companies, including Cruise, Waymo, and Apple, have tested robotaxis and driverless vehicles in the state.
In San Francisco, Cruise’s robotaxi service was forced to end operations after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended the company’s permits.
Co-founder and chief executive officer of Cruise, Kyle Vogt, resigned this month after the company paused its driverless-taxi operations nationwide.