Activist Group Found A Way to Disable Robotaxis with A Cone

Some San Francisco drivers are getting impatient with robotaxis. 

The city is witnessing a rise in protests against autonomous vehicle services. A decentralized group of safe street activists has discovered a simple method to disable Cruise and Waymo vehicles: placing a traffic cone on the hood. 

Known as the “Week of Cone,” this viral prank on social media is aimed at raising awareness and expressing frustration over the malfunctioning of robotaxis and their disruption of traffic. The protest coincides with an upcoming hearing regarding the expansion of autonomous vehicle passenger services by Waymo and Cruise in the city.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is scheduled to approve the deployment expansion on July 13, granting these companies the authority to charge passengers a fare for their services. However, opposition has grown, with concerns raised by city agencies and residents. Criticisms revolve around the adverse impact on traffic, public transit, emergency responders, and the potential elimination of jobs for taxi and ride-hail drivers.

The Safe Street Rebel group’s cone campaign aims to gather support and encourage San Franciscans to submit public comments to the CPUC ahead of the hearing. Videos shared on social media highlight the disruption caused by autonomous vehicles and the companies’ partnerships with law enforcement for surveillance purposes.

While some of the group’s claims may be exaggerated, instances of autonomous vehicles blocking roads, impeding traffic, and even being involved in accidents have been reported. However, there have been no deaths attributed to autonomous vehicles in San Francisco to date. Regulation of self-driving cars largely falls under the jurisdiction of state departments of transportation and motor vehicles, with limited involvement from federal bodies.

The cone challenge has faced criticism from Waymo, who denounced it as vandalism and unsafe behavior. However, the definition of vandalism may not apply to placing cones on the vehicles’ hoods. Cruise, on the other hand, highlighted its strong safety record and the positive impact of its services on the community.

The protest is unlikely to make an impact on the CPUC’s decision though, given the support from various stakeholders, including elected officials, technology industry groups, and economic development organizations. Coned robotaxis will likely just annoy, even endanger more people on the road.

Information for this story was found via Forbes, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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