September 22, 2023

Grumpy locals sabotage Cruise and Waymo Robotaxis with traffic cones

Cruise cone hero

Cruise cone hero

San Francisco has been a hotbed for robot axis in the US. It’s not too surprising that one of the country’s top engineering goals became the proving ground for these autonomous cars. Over time, however, it has proved a bit difficult for the locals to deal with the unpredictable nature of these fleets. Now some have taken an unorthodox method to revolt against the unmanned pieces of metal.

A group that goes by the name “Safe Street Rebel” has had enough of what they consider driverless nuisances. Members have verbally protested against services like Cruise and Waymo operating in the San Francisco area, but with both companies pushing to advance their allowed area of ​​operation, the Safe Street Rebel group has gotten a little creative with the way they protest: by the vehicles of traffic cones driving.


Welcome to Week of Cone On Thurs 7/13, the CPUC will vote to expand AVs in SF. Cruise & Waymo promise they’ll reduce traffic & collisions, but we know that’s not true. They block busses & emergency vehicles, create more traffic, and are a surveillance nightmare. But there’s hope We can fight back. –The Fun way: All you need is a cone and an empty AV. Gently place the cone on the hood- you just created a unicorn & temporary traffic calming! – The Responsible way- Tune into Thursday’s CPUC meeting at 11am & give public comment. Info: AVs are hella problematic. They’re still cars and there’s no sustainable way to move 2 tons of metal/person. require too many mining resources. Tire wear is the largest contributor to particulate pollution and kills vital ecosystems. There’s also no accountability when they block buses or first responders, and unlike human drivers can’t get ticketed for moving violations. And they refuse to share data with the public about incidents- forcing the city to scrape this dumb website to get an estimate. Cruise and Waymo do not deserve our trust. Why go through all this when we can just fund & expand public transit and paratransit like other cities? These cars are recording everyone without our consent- Cruise gives SFPD camera footage. Lives are saved when we remove the car, not just the driver. The lengths VCs and the auto industry will go to preserve & expand car dominance are shameless & unacceptable. So join us – take a stand and cone an AV. And be sure to give public comment on Thursday 7/13 at 11am. Meeting details in bio Oh and be sure to send us your Coning Content #waroncars #bancars #autononomouscars #selfdriving #cone #tacticalurbanism #directaction #walkablecities

♬ Sunsets (feat. Olivia Lunny) – Nurko

“All you need is a cone and an empty AV,” the group continues Twitter. “Carefully place the cone on the hood – you’ve just created a unicorn and temporarily calmed traffic!”

Autonomous taxi service Cruise has been under scrutiny for some time. In fact, just over a year ago, one of the company’s first blunders in California became public. Swarms of company-branded Chevy Bolts got stuck, blocking traffic for hours. It took human drivers to remove the self-inflicted roadblock. Cruise’s vehicles have also crashed power lines, rear-ended public buses and attempted to run over fire hoses during an emergency. There has been so much public disruption that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the matter.

Cruise’s Google-backed competitor, Waymo, isn’t blameless either. Videos and reports have surfaced of Waymo’s vehicles getting stuck in cul-de-sacs and failing to comply with orders when pulled over by police. But whether or not Waymo’s self-driving taxis are as guilty as Safe Street Rebel says, the Google subsidiary isn’t happy with the group’s actions. In a statement to The ride, Waymo said: “Not only is this understanding of how AVs work incorrect, but this is vandalism and encourages unsafe and disrespectful behavior on our roads. We will notify the police of any unwanted or unsafe interference by our vehicles on public roads. away.”

Despite pressure from the press and opposition from local officials, Cruise and Waymo want to push beyond their physical boundaries and venture into 24/7 operations. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates Robotaxis operation statewide, plans to vote on this expansion next week. Should the CPUC vote to allow AVs to expand operations, city officials may have no choice but to keep a record of when incidents occur and complain, hoping someone will listen and take action before disaster strikes.

This has led the members of Safe Street Rebel to take matters into their own hands. They raise awareness of their target as they take out Cruise and Waymo vehicles with a simple traffic cone.

“Hell no,” the group said in a TikTok video. “We do not agree to this.”

The group argues that robotic taxis are not only bad for San Francisco traffic, but are also unsustainable from an environmental point of view. They specifically cite the emissions associated with the production of the batteries of the electric Chevy Bolts, as well as the particulate emissions from each car’s tire wear, which some independent studies suggest could be a valid concern.

While it’s no secret that some of these robot axes have caused problems with local traffic patterns, not everyone is necessarily anti-autonomy. Some people even shamed the cones in Twitter comments, calling the move a “strange, anti-progress agenda.”

The group seems to have other problems with AVs than just the vehicles being allowed to drive on more roads for extended periods of time. It seems their mission is for California to instead spend its money on strengthening public transportation infrastructure, viz trains, instead of sinking it to let AVs roam the streets. This is consistent with their statement that “all cars are badregardless of who is (or isn’t) behind the wheel, so take what they say with a grain of salt.

AV companies have refuted this argument in the past by claiming that their technology saves lives. Meanwhile, locals, city officials and local emergency services seem annoyed by the rapid rollout. And as for the CPUC? Well, it says it’s “actively working” to enact policies to control driverless technology in the state.

The bureau will vote on July 13 on whether or not to allow AV companies to expand their services.

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