back to article San Francisco police use driverless cars for surveillance

San Francisco police have been using driverless cars for surveillance to assist in law enforcement investigations. According to an SFPD training document obtained by Motherboard [PDF]: "Autonomous vehicles are recording their surroundings continuously and have the potential to help with investigative leads." It indicates that …

  1. DrXym

    Well that's kind of stupid

    Driverless cars are very obviously going to be griefed and destroyed in no time.

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

      Re: Well that's kind of stupid

      Soon, exploits for driverless cars will have a big market

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Welcome... the United States of Surveillance.

    The land of the free* and the home of the brave.

    * - subject to government oversight, background clearance and check of electronic communications.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lamd of the Free?

      The USA is rapidly drowning under law after law that is designed to restrict your freedoms especially if you are a woman of any age who has yet to experience menopause. They are even talking about banning all forms of contraception.

      Freedom is being able to choose and not being restricted by the desires of the Evangelical Right.

      The USA was once seen as a leading light and trend-setting society. The new trends that they are now setting are more akin to what is described in 'A Handmaid's Tale' mixed with '1984'.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are the Police working from home?

    A driverless car could issue tickets for speeding, running red lights, and throwing trash on the streets ... at least they are not suggesting adding a shooterless gun to the cars.

    1. ITS Retired

      If corporations are persons with Rights...

      Then how long till these cars, with actual 'intelligence', be declared persons also and be allowed to be armed to protect themselves from damage. 2nd Amendment and all that.

      Or will they only be allowed to shoot at other cars?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If corporations are persons with Rights...

        As long as the other car is a non-sentient one I guess it's OK.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: If corporations are persons with Rights...

        >Or will they only be allowed to shoot at other cars?

        Not a good time to own a black car !

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: If corporations are persons with Rights...


  4. spold Silver badge


    ...due to the machine learning dataset, they keep stopping at doughnut stores.

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Printer firmware updates.

    "which prohibited service techies from going onsite to make the fixes."

    No, it didn't. I wasn't doing Konica firmware updates, but I was very much out on the road visiting customer sites and repairing their kit throughout lockdown.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    all those connected' cars are perfect for this

    I'm sure that Elon could charge another $1000 per car per year to include direct uploads of all images taken by all Tesla's 24/7.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: all those connected' cars are perfect for this

      He's probably already selling it all to his mate Peter Theil at Dystopiacorp

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driverless cars?

    Funny, given how the SF police are "slow walking" most of their crime investigations these days - apparently to discredit the DA. Maybe the slow walk is so slow they WFH now? Oh my...

  9. DS999 Silver badge

    I doubt the surveillance was voluntary

    Probably the police made it the price of OKing the operation of driverless cars inside city limits.

    Hardly seems worth it versus putting cameras in public right of ways like street lights, unless they are able to tell the driverless car where to go to surveil a given target. If you're a drug dealer and you see an empty car drive by a few times, you should probably prepare to be raided by the cops...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thin edge of the wedge

    We're really sleepwalking into a Panopticon society (actually, one trip along UK's motorways, especially near London suggests the UK may have arrived there already).

    As far as I recall, anti-collision systems and lane assist systems are heading towards being mandatory on new cars, which all depend on cameras (some + radar) to work. I give it maybe four years (shortened by any atrocity along the way) before sharing that feed will become mandatory, of course, all in the name of 'safety' and 'for our protection', with one incident caught in three months worth of footage to "prove" that it "works".

    The Panopticon theory was developed for mental manipulation of prisoners - if you don't want to be treated like one, now is the time to stop the inevitable scope creep, likely fuelled by big tech because they will make gazillions off it (while their management will, of course, mysteriously never be seen or recorded).

    Yes, I know that I sound like some bearded, socks-in-sandals activist right now but I'm beginning to think they were simply well ahead of us.

  11. Danny 2


    Merriam Webster - History and Etymology for miscreant

    Middle English miscreaunt, from Anglo-French mescreant, present participle of mescreire to disbelieve, from mes- + creire to believe, from Latin credere

    I'm not sure the US is the most surveilled nation yet, it used to be the UK.

    Jing Yang, what are you doing? This is Palo Alto, people are lunatics here about smoking. We don't enjoy all the freedoms you have in China

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Movie time

    Soon to have a taser mounted, then, then take the wheels off.

    Then Robocar become Robocop. Bunch of desk jockeys squeezing the trigger from miles away while laughing. Nope, I don't like it, don't like it at all.

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