Sometimes the problems just work themselves out!
An anti-car group in San Francisco that calls itself Safe Street Rebel has decided to start attacking robotaxis that constantly roam the city’s streets. For now, these attacks aren’t violent but instead involve people placing a cone on the hood of unoccupied self-driving cars, essentially disabling them. However, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if things were to escalate in the future.
This approach is a little refreshing after we’ve seen anti-car activists deflate tires and pull off other dangerous stunts to supposedly make everyone safe. These people seem to think automakers and the vehicles they produce are just plain horrible while lionizing public transportation, so needless to say we don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with them.
At the same time, we think the push toward autonomous drive tech is also horrible. Not only will this make cars far more expensive in the future, we don’t think such systems are entirely safe or truly moral. We’re not anti-technology, we just don’t worship whatever engineers and others say they can do.
Waymo told local station ABC7 that it considers placing traffic cones on its robotaxis “vandalism” and said it would report any incidents to law enforcement. Considering the kinds of things people get away with doing in San Francisco, that’s not much of a threat.
To see these two groups clash is like watching Alien vs. Predator where you’re just happy to see them tearing each other apart. Both have unrealistic dreams of some utopian city where if their extreme views are carried out everyone will realize they’re heroes of humanity. And the reality is things are messy.
We’ve seen how people can mess with self-driving cars by spray painting street signs or placing stickers on them. Then there’s this cone trick. Many more “hacks” to stop or confuse robotaxis exist and we fully expect their detractors who feel justified in “taking back the streets” for buses or pedestrians or whatever will exploit them all in their righteous crusade.
As we’ve covered before, Cruise has been investigated for its robotaxis stopping randomly on streets, causing traffic congestion. We also covered how a Waymo self-driving car hit and killed a dog in San Francisco. There have been other issues with these vehicles, but their fans will try to act like these issues don’t really matter or are incredibly rare. Obviously, Safe Street Rebel members disagree.