Robotaxis Drawing Anger as Fleets Grow

  • Robo-taxis are picking up passengers in San Francisco and Phoenix. 
  • The fleets are growing as they become more popular.
  • Drivers in the busy California city are not thrilled.
  • The taxis are presenting new problems for the congested city. 

( – It’s clear that self-driving cars are the way of the future. Some vehicles already have AI technology programmed into them. However, they are still required to have a driver behind the wheel of the car.

In San Francisco, the tech Mecca of America, there are self-driving taxis. While many people are in favor of the robotaxis, others are less than thrilled.

What’s a Robotaxi?

A robo-taxi is an autonomous vehicle operated by a rideshare company that picks up passengers like a traditional taxicab. People can request the service through their smartphones, similar to the way they request an Uber or Lyft.

In San Francisco, the companies Waymo, owned by Alphabet Inc., and Cruise, owned by General Motors, operate the vehicles.

Influencing Lawmakers

According to a report by The San Francisco Standard, Cruise and Waymo have spent more than $2.3 million since 2021 on a lobbying campaign to influence lawmakers in California and San Francisco.

Their efforts paid off on August 10, when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) signed off on a request allowing the companies to pick up riders in San Francisco at all hours of the day, no longer preventing them from picking people up during the busiest hours.

Angry Community

In July, videos circulated of San Francisco residents sabotaging robo-taxis. Safe Street Rebel, a TikTok account, published a video showing people putting cones on the hoods of the cars. The video called out the companies for promising to “reduce traffic and collisions,” but they do the opposite.

According to multiple reports, the vehicles are often seen blocking buses, ordinary traffic, and emergency vehicles. San Francisco’s public transit system, city attorney David Chiu, and labor unions have asked the state to suspend the expanded program.

A fleet of driverless vehicles recently responded to an area where a concert was being held on North Beach and caused a traffic jam. In June, an autonomous taxi ran over and killed a small dog. Another vehicle crashed into a firetruck that was responding to an emergency call. The accident injured a passenger.

After the accident with the fire truck, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to halve its fleet for the time being. Despite the setbacks, Cruise has plans to expand to Raleigh, North Carolina.

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