Self-Driving Chevy Ticketed For Tangling With Pedestrian

Autonomous Car

Motorcycle cop cites car's human operator.

Shortly after an autonomous car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, one of GM’s self-driving cars was handed a ticket after police said the vehicle got too close to a pedestrian while making a right turn. The car is owned by the San Francisco-based startup, Cruise Automation, and was formally cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Cruise says that car’s data shows the person was far away enough from the vehicle for it to be a non-issue, and that the car did nothing wrong.

According to KPIX-TV, a witness said the cop was just writing a regular ticket like normal. Data collected by Cruise shows the pedestrian was 10.8 feet away from the self-driving car as it turned onto Harrison at 14th Street on one of the car's normal test routes. In a statement, the company said, “Safety is our priority in testing our self-driving vehicles. California law requires the vehicle to yield the right of way to pedestrians, allowing them to proceed undisturbed and unhurried without fear of interference of their safe passage through an intersection. Our data indicates that’s what happened here.”

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Despite the car operating itself, Cruise says the human test driver is now responsible for the citation, even though it believes neither the car nor its supervisor did anything wrong. Discussions surrounding autonomous cars and their interactions with pedestrians have reached a fever pitch in the last week following the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg after she was struck and killed by one of Uber’s self-driving Volvos as she walked her bicycle across a road in Temple, Arizona.