How will police hail or stop an autonomous vehicle?

How will police hail or stop an autonomous vehicle?

Was wondering how police, or other, would hail and or stop an autonomous vehicle? Particularly considering the future when passengers are not paying any attention at all. I don't see protocols or technology being discussed whereby, perhaps, V2V could be used from the police vehicle to the autonomous car, or some kind of visual or audio signal the car is trained to obey.

I guess same would apply to vehicles pulling over for such as fire trucks. Suspect it must be better than what I observe of human drivers today who are either oblivious, ignorant or just scofflaws.


PhillyGal | 20. Juni 2017

Wow, heck of a question!

ironmikezero | 20. Juni 2017

The technology already exists to remotely shut down a vehicle via the cell phone connection (e.g., GM's Onstar has been used to disable stolen vehicles). Autonomous vehicles will be connected to some evolved form of grid that will no doubt have an applicable enhanced override capability.

Rutrow | 20. Juni 2017

Radar detectors used to have the ability to receive signals that police, fire, trains, etc. could emit to send warnings thru the radar detector. It was a system I never heard about any of those entities ever adopting the systems. That kind of system would be best, but a Tesla's cameras could recognize flashing emergency lights. Microphones on the outside for detecting audible signals outside of line of site? Emergency vehicles could send location and route information to the live traffic monitors used by navigation software.

Great question, I wonder which method will win out?

eric.zucker | 20. Juni 2017

If there are passengers, they could press an emergency stop button. If the car is summoned empty, something needs to be developed.

Captain_Zap | 20. Juni 2017

It seems as though there must be a person in responsible charge of the vehicle that would have to respond... just like a boat or airplane.

Earl and Nagin ... | 20. Juni 2017

Interesting question. Unmanned vehicles create a paradigm shift in thinking. Going with Captain_Zap suggestion of responsibility: Clearly before they're allowed on the road, someone must be legally responsible.
Then the question for the OP is: Why would they be pulling the vehicle over?
Is it to talk with the person who is responsible? If so, pulling the vehicle over won't really help if the responsible person is not with the vehicle. I would think that there would be a data base from which the person responsible can be called or otherwise contacted based on, perhaps, the license plate.
Is it to take a passenger into custody for some other reason? Again, contact the person responsible.
I think a tougher issue may be what are the expectations/requirements for how much responsibility the responsible person really must take. Are these vehicles truly going around answering ride hails, picking up, and dropping off passengers and goods with nobody involved at all?
If the vehicle breaks the law? What is the value of stopping it? Will the responsible person have to come to the vehicle and claim it? Will it be shut down until the responsible person proves that it won't break the law again? Will a ticket be mailed to the responsible person? Are autonomous vehicles bound by the law?
I'm sure that any autonomous vehicles would be required to comply with existing laws. Therefore, they would have to be able to recognize fire and emergency vehicles .
Many questions . . .

holidayday | 20. Juni 2017

E&N: "Why would they be pulling the vehicle over?"

Another item: What about a crash that closes a street and the car needs to take a detour? Today, a cop will stand there waving people down the detour, away from the closed road.
I'm sure automated cars will understand this motion some day. But then I also see teens jumping in front of driverless cars waving their hands and pointing down a dead end street to see what happens. | 20. Juni 2017

Great questions - FSD keeps getting more complex.

bp | 21. Juni 2017

Autonomous systems have visual sensors - cameras, lidar, radar, ... - that visually inspect the surroundings.

V2I and V2V may provide additional information - in the future, but really only becomes useful if all objects that can't be seen can communicate with the autonomous vehicles.

But that still leaves a hole - not all objects will be easily visible or be able to communicate by V2I/V2V.

Human drivers also have audio sensors - able to hear items such as emergency vehicle sirens, police whistles, train crossing warnings, screeching brakes, ...

Are the autonomous systems also including audio sensors to detect this?

If Tesla hasn't already included an external microphone - could they have EAP/FSD monitor the interior microphone and listen for outside audio signals (though the microphone may be optimized to focus on the cabin - and may not capture much of the outside noise)?

The OP has an excellent question - and something I don't recall seeing discussed about EAP/FSD or other competing systems...

NKYTA | 21. Juni 2017

The regulations/laws around this question are likely to be more complex than the FSD software.

jordanrichard | 21. Juni 2017

Well, I may be going out on a limb here, but if the car is in self driving mode, it will not be breaking the posted speed limit. So why would the car need to be pulled over? | 21. Juni 2017

@jordanrichard - I can see a few weird cases:

1) FSD car blows through an intersection that has a stop sign, but the sign is partly obscured by tree branches.

2) Electronic speed limit sign changes speed based on conditions. If the sun is at some angles, perhaps the camera can't see/detect the lower than normal speed, and the car breaks the speed limit.

3) Car does not detect an ambulance or fire truck coming up behind it does not pull over (in California you must pull over to the side of the road).

4) A traffic light has a power problem and is not active. Will the FSD realize it needs to be treated as a 4-way stop?

While not legal, some or all of these might be tossed out of court. There may need to be a new set of rules for FSD cars and tickets. Perhaps the police just send an electronic ticket based on the license plate (i.e. not stopped). Now should the manufacturer get the ticket or the owner?

More advanced approaches would be for police to have hand-held person-to-vehicle transmitters. Vehicles could be told to stop, slow, force a detour, etc. Of course some type of validation is required so hackers couldn't force control of a FSD car, making the process a lot more complex.

Ross1 | 21. Juni 2017

What about a rogue car operated by remote terrorists entering an airport or mall precinct?
What if the car kept mowing down people and the more police shot at it the more it goes wild?

Mike83 | 21. Juni 2017

No worries. The Terminator will deactivate the vehicle. The laws of robotics via Isaac Asimov

carlgo2 | 21. Juni 2017

Actually it would seem that it would be hard to stop a Tesla with bullets. Hitting a motor would be difficult and an extremely powerful round would be required, and maybe there are two motors to hit. Hitting the battery flat under the floor would also be difficult and I believe they are arranged in segments so it might take many hits. You could put holes in the tires, but it could go on for awhile regardless, just as seen on LA police chases.

I'm for autonomous car shutdowns for all vehicles. | 22. Juni 2017

This is one of millions of "corner cases" that will have to be dealt with as manufacturers race to declare their cars capable of self-driving. We have a law that requires slowing down or moving out of the outside lane when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the highway. Not all emergency vehicles are easy to recognize. How will a FSD car handle that? The car turns onto a road with no lane markings. How will it proceed? The car approaches an intersection where the stop sign has been recently knocked akimbo. How will the FSD car know to stop. The car approaches a stoplight controlled intersection where the light is stuck on red. How will it know to proceed? Will it wait a prescribed number of minutes and proceed with caution or will it just wait until it's battery dies? What if there is a car behind the FSD car honking the horn? Will the FSD car hear it? Will the FSD car recognize a pedestrian crossing marked only by faded paint on across the roadway?

Garyeop | 22. Juni 2017

Any self respecting big brother should be able to mimic the GPS satellite signal and fool the car into driving to the pokie.

NKYTA | 22. Juni 2017

@george, on my recent trip, I noticed police vehicles now seem to angle out behind the car they have targeted. It wasn't the case in the past.

FSD, 2021

This will be a mess. A fun, tech proving mess, but a mess nonetheless.

JayInJapan | 22. Juni 2017

Emergency vehicles currently use timed strobe lights to trigger traffic light changes. I don't see why autonomous vehicles couldn't be set to pull over as well using the same trigger.

NKYTA | 23. Juni 2017

@Jay, but if your FSD vehicle slows rapidly due to that signal, and is rear ended by a non FSD vehicle, who is to blame?

The next ten years should be interesting! ;-)

JayInJapan | 23. Juni 2017

Who said anything about slowing rapidly?

mark.willing | 23. Juni 2017

Frankly, I am surprised this type of emergency shut down tech has not been installed in all newer vehicles. All the vehicle needs to do is shut down the engine/motor while allowing the vehicle/driver to still have control of steering and braking.

Stolen vehicles, high speed chases, medical and "impaired driving" issues,...are just some potential situations that may be handled differently.

Earl and Nagin ... | 23. Juni 2017

Sounds like a solution that a little duct tape will solve so it will only work with people who it isn't needed for.

NKYTA | 23. Juni 2017

@Jay, I wasn't calling you out specifically, but I've been in that instance where to slow down, or speed up to get to the side of the road seems to be very much a human call based on surroundings and the nearness of the warning.

It is the FSD combined with human drivers that is going to bite FSD non-drivers. Well, that and regulations. There are going to be laws written by lawyers, in the US, that aren't going to make much sense.

Better bet in Nippon? ;-)

Haggy | 23. Juni 2017

For starters, and perhaps for years, it's likely that drivers will be required to be seated in the driver's seat. Cars should be designed not to break the law, and police should be more concerned with the more egregious violations than one that the car could make by mistake due to a hard to read sign. When cops have speed traps, they tend to make sure that signs are clearly readable ahead of time because they know that people will make excuses in court.

I don't know how they will pull themselves over when there's an emergency vehicle, but I can think of ways of doing it with cameras.

carlk | 23. Juni 2017

Guys. Why you want to make such a simple thing so complicated? How do police stop a car driven by a human? Flashing lights in the rear view will do it. Just do the same to self driving cars.

JayInJapan | 24. Juni 2017

@NKYTA, no problem. ;-) I'm just not seeing this being a difficult thing at all. Automated cars will have a system allowing them to pull over when necessary.

Driving here is not so different from Southern California; we just have to pay A LOT of money to use highways (I pay ¥30k-¥40k [$275-$350 U.S.] one-way for those Tokyo road trips.) I've never needed an ambulance here, but I did ride one to move a colleague from one hospital to another. There were many drivers who didn't pull over to make room. I'm thinking automated driving is going to help take care of that.

SbMD | 24. Juni 2017

Lots of ways to make this happen, discussed above. Google has a patent on a sensor based system which detects police lights, which is what @carlk suggested above.

No reason why V2V or V2I type paths couldn't be used for this purpose. Chances are that the need to be pulled over will be less with FSD and with critical mass of the car fleet to have autonomous driving the overwhelming majority.

NKYTA | 24. Juni 2017

@Jay, yikes! That would make Bighorn's trip prohibitively costly, if the US did that. ;-)

I just hope the lawyers get out of the way of technology/science on this. My hopes aren't that high. :-/

hateToShift | 24. Juni 2017

Fascinating discussion. IMO, if a cars AI is smart enough to drive autonomously, it will be smart enough to detect bright red flashing lights, determine if they're in the same side of the road, or the opposite side with no island divider between the two. It should be able to detect that other drivers are pulling off to the right and be able to follow their lead safely.

As a human sometimes we see a police car light up behind us and have to determine if it's me they're trying to pull over. Sometimes, highway patrol is flashing but speeding up too, and you get the feeling he's going to veer around you and hail someone else. The AI will have to perceive this too.

Ross1 | 24. Juni 2017

A little bit of software and authorised 'police' will be able to take over any vehicle.
Either within line of sight or from a satellite. Anywhere. Trust me.
Then the nightmares begin: Terrorism, war, crime..
Remember The Italian Job, they took over traffic lights?
So a rogue 10 year old creates software that drives all Teslas into the Lemmings, and because of their group learning, all Teslas all over the world find the nearest cliff...or migrate to Ca where they drive off the Pier.

Ross1 | 24. Juni 2017

Mollom should have stopped me way back.. | 24. Juni 2017

Tow trucks on the shoulder are vehicles to change lanes for. If their lights are flashing, they are Amber. Sometimes they aren't flashing. The point is not that "corner cases" don't have a solution. It is that there are a vast number that are encountered somewhere every day. Each one is a software development project. I have a feeling it will be a Pearl Harbor kind of thing. You know. Oh crap, they just sank our battleships. I guess we'd better do something. Like Joshua Brown sadly driving under a semi trailer at 74 mph because the camera and radar didn't agree and he wasn't paying attention. Tesla made some changes but poor Josh won't be one of the beneficiaries.

FSD cars in a mixed environment with non FSD cars traversing roads with random states of maintenance will present many challenges to function adequately. It will be a race between the gathering of enough data to demonstrate convincingly the relatively greater safety of FSD and the occurrence of tragedies blamed on FSD, even though Google's experiment has demonstrated a "Waymo" better safety record for their version of FSD:
So far.