Driverless cars have become a common sight in the Bay Area, with Cruise and Waymo competing fiercely for control over San Francisco’s roads. While these tech giants promote autonomous vehicles as life-saving solutions, the daily training routines of these cars have proven to be both annoying and perilous for unconsenting citizens.
In June 2022, Cruise received authorization from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to deploy 30 autonomous vehicles for passenger use in designated regions of San Francisco, with the ability to charge for rides. Later, Waymo was also authorized by the CPUC to participate in the state’s driverless pilot program, allowing them to offer free test rides in San Francisco and several neighboring areas. The CPUC permits that would enable both companies to charge for their driverless rides are still pending, awaiting the next hearing on June 29.
However, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) remains sceptical about the technological capabilities of Cruise and Waymo. Despite their dominance over competitors like Pony.ai, Zoox, and AutoX, the lack of transparency regarding their cars’ basic operations has raised concerns. Moreover, numerous photos, videos, and news reports have shown that these vehicles can cause significant traffic disruptions. Local transportation agencies have voiced their protests, citing dangers posed to pedestrians, drivers, and emergency personnel.
Recent incidents involving stalled driverless cars have highlighted the challenges faced by these self-driving cars. Witnesses have observed confused individuals trying to guide the vehicles or encountering traffic jams due to their inability to navigate certain situations. Even though Waymo claims its AVs can handle construction zones and other obstacles, the cautious approach often leads to traffic disruptions, frustrating drivers.
While some residents were initially optimistic about driverless cars, they now find the presence of driverless cars on the roads to be strange and unsettling. Cruise and Waymo’s AVs have struggled to consistently follow traffic laws and navigate San Francisco’s chaotic streets, particularly during nighttime. The city’s transportation agency has raised concerns about the marketing videos, which inadvertently showcased unsafe practices.
The SFMTA has emphasized the need for AVs to demonstrate safe operation on city streets and provide data to support their claims of improvement. Reports indicate that there have been numerous incidents involving Cruise vehicles, causing disruptions on busy corridors where public transportation operates. The SFMTA has received a significant increase in calls and complaints in recent months, indicating ongoing challenges with driverless cars.
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As the battle for dominance between Cruise and Waymo continues, concerns persist over the safety and reliability of driverless cars in San Francisco.