Activists putting cones on the hoods of self-driving cars to stop them in San Francisco
Activists in San Francisco have come up with a new way to stop self-driving cars after the robotic vehicles were blamed for a series of incidents, including killing a dog in June and plowing into the side of a bus in March.
The Safe Streets Rebel protest group, which advocates for pedestrian safety, has posted multiple videos on their social media platforms showing them disabling the robot taxis by placing a traffic cone on the hood.
The campaign is timed to coincide with the California Public Utilities Commission’s vote on whether or not to expand self-driving car services. The two main robo-taxi companies are Cruise, owned by General Motors, and Waymo, owned by Google.
On Instagram, Safe Streets Rebel called the campaign The Week of Cone. ‘It’s a great time. We’re not damaging anyone’s property, it’s very repairable, but it’s a fun and effective tactic that really resonates,” said one member of the group. The protector.
In a statement, Waymo criticized the protesters, calling their actions “vandalism” and accusing members of the group of encouraging “unsafe and disrespectful behavior on our roads.” The company promised to call authorities if they found their cars tampered with.
Placing a traffic cone on the hood of the self-driving car disables it, protesters say they are trying to raise concerns about the safety issues surrounding robot cars
Self-driving cars have been involved in a series of incidents, including running into a city bus
While Cruise emphasized his public service in a statement on the cone protest.
Cruises’ fleet provides free rides to night shift workers without reliable transportation options, has delivered more than 2 million meals to food-insecure San Franciscans, and collects food waste from local businesses.
“Intentionally obstructing vehicles hinders those efforts and risks traffic congestion for local residents,” the press release continued.
crown reports that city officials have also spoken out against the protest, pointing to the fact that if a car is disabled, it takes technical experts to reset it, potentially causing more congestion.
Cruise also pointed out that his cars have not been involved in a single fatal accident or serious injury after covering three million miles on the streets of San Francisco.
Safe Streets Rebel works to make public spaces safer for pedestrians and cyclists while campaigning for more money for public transport. Attacking robo cars is a new starting point for the group, the previous targets were human drivers.
Last month, the group made headlines after a protest against public transportation cuts in which a member dressed as California Governor Gavin Newsom smashed a piñata, reports the San Francisco standard.
“They still need wide roads, tire wear, they have cameras everywhere. It’s not just about ‘are they safer than a human diver?’ We want healthy cities where these high-tech surveillance pods don’t have to move around,” an activist told The Guardian.
Waymo is owned and operated by Alphabet, Google’s parent company
In a statement, Waymo denounced the protesters, saying it was a form of “vandalism.”
In an interview with ABC San Francisco, another member of the group said, “Even if you have the perfect driver, as these have been pitched, they’re still fundamentally unsafe as a two-ton metal box cruising around town.”
Safe Streets Rebels’ concerns were echoed by San Francisco Police Chief Jeanine Nicholson, who urged officials to slow down to allow more self-driving cars more freedom on the streets.
“We actually had two vehicles stopped dead in front of fire engines trying to get through firehouse doors to make emergency calls,” Chief Nicholson said. KTVU.
In June, a Cruise car was accused of blocking emergency access to the scene of a shooting. Also in June, two Waymo cars stopped close to the city’s Pride Parade.
Autonomous car expert Billy Riggs of the University of San Francisco told KTVU in an interview that data shows that self-driving cars are safer than human-powered cars.
“We’re still seeing issues where, like a human driver, they encounter situations, one in a million situations that they haven’t encountered before,” Riggs said.
The end of the bowling protest is scheduled for July 9, but one protester told the Standard that bowling has become so popular it may have taken on a life of its own.
“People may continue to use them, if not as a form of protest, then just for the joy of it,” she said.
Waymo, which began as a secret project within Google in 2009, has been running a driverless ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area since October 2020, but navigating the density and difficulty of busier cities, such as San Francisco, has greater challenges. provided robot taxis to overcome.
That’s one of the reasons Cruise’s newly approved driverless service in San Francisco is so tightly controlled. In addition to being limited to places and times with less traffic and fewer pedestrians on the streets, Cruise’s driverless service is also not allowed to operate in heavy rain or fog.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised his electric car company would have a robotic taxi fleet by the end of 2020. That didn’t happen
While Cruise’s application for a self-driving taxi service in San Francisco received widespread support from supporters who hoped the technology would become viable in other cities, some transportation experts urged the Public Utilities Commission to proceed with caution.
“Many of the claimed benefits of (autonomous vehicles) have not been demonstrated, and some of the claims have little or no basis,” Ryan Russo, the director of the Oakland, California, department of transportation, told the committee in May.
Uber, the largest ride-hailing service, had hoped to have 75,000 self-driving cars on the road by 2019 and operate a driverless taxi fleet in at least 13 cities by 2022, according to court documents filed in a high-profile case in which the company steal trade secrets from Waymo.
Uber sold its autonomous driving division to Aurora in 2020 and still relies almost exclusively on human drivers, which have become more difficult to recruit since the pandemic.
And Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised his electric car company would have a robotized taxi fleet by the end of 2020. That didn’t happen, though Musk still promises it will eventually.