Annoyed by self-driving taxis, San Francisco residents have found a low-tech trick to stop the invasion

Mallory Delicourt

July 08, 2023 at 2 p.m.


Waymo Zeekr vehicle © © Waymo / Zeekr

© Waymo

Viral videos circulating on TikTok appear to demonstrate that some San Francisco residents are successfully blocking self-driving taxis with simple traffic cones.

The use of these vehicles is widely debated, in particular because of the problems caused in recent years.

You will not pass !

Autonomous vehicles are one of the many developments promised for personal travel, but the road still seems long. In San Francisco, where Waymo and Cruise, respectively subsidiaries of Alphabet and General Motors, have deployed fleets of autonomous taxis, residents regularly demonstrate their opposition to their presence in certain neighborhoods. It must be said that due to many concerns, these vehicles regularly make the news and exasperate both users and locals, motorists and elected officials.

On TikTok, there are many videos highlighting the setbacks of these autonomous vehicles, sometimes with humor, sometimes with a lot of annoyance. But recently, a new form of resistance seems to be gaining momentum. In several posts broadcast, we see people putting traffic cones on the hoods of autonomous taxis. This would cause major problems for the sensors and cameras of the vehicles, which would stop moving. Let us remain cautious despite everything, because nothing allows for the moment to prove the real effectiveness of the approach.

The phenomenon becomes recurrent and obviously finds its origin on the side of a group of anti-autonomous vehicle activists calling themselves “ Safe Street Rebels “. The most viewed video has more than 900,000 views on Twitter alone, where it is relayed and is currently going around the world. For the companies running these vehicles, these are acts of vandalism that encourage ” dangerous and disrespectful behavior and which demonstrate a lack of understanding of how autonomous taxis work.

Chevrolet Bolt EV / Cruise Automation © Cruise Automation

© Cruise Automation

Accidents, traffic jams, offences… Autonomous vehicles are the subject of debate

Autonomous vehicles have been talked about for a long time, but the testing phases and their deployment are not going smoothly. At first, there were obviously misfires and crashes, but the technology quickly improved. To prove that these vehicles have a place in the city, Waymo and Cruise have put many autonomous vehicles on the roads of San Francisco, with authorization to operate from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Last January, elected officials mobilized to alert the federal government and ask to limit the expansion of the two companies, which also claim to be able to run their taxis all day. They complain of having to face many problems with these vehicles, which sometimes cause huge traffic jams, block public transport, pull themselves to the side in foggy weather and hinder the intervention of the services. emergency.

On the side of Cruise, we assure that the safety record is good, with “ 3 million kilometers without a driver, without fatalities or life-threatening injuries “. The spokesperson for the company also tries to minimize the problems caused on the traffic by recalling that the fleet offers free trips to night workers, delivers meals to the poorest and collects waste from local businesses. Finally, Cruise reminds that blocking vehicles while people say they are fighting the impact of these cars on traffic is contradictory.

Source : David Zipper on Twitter

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