San Francisco’s Self-Driving Car Showdown

By: James Flippin · August 09, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Autopilot Backlash

San Francisco may be a long way away from inventing Terminators, but a very real battle of man vs. machine is playing out in the city today.

Some San Francisco residents are pushing back against the fleets of autonomous taxis recently deployed by Waymo (GOOGL) and Cruise (GM).

The tech hub initially seemed an ideal fit for these driverless cars’ test drives. Now tensions are rising as both Cruise and Waymo look to expand their presence in the city.

Driving the Debate

Just like any new piece of technology, self-driving cars have been known to have some kinks. There have been reports of driverless cars getting in the way of pedestrians and first responders, as well as injuring pets on at least two occasions.

In light of these events, city residents are rethinking whether they want thousands of self-driving cars on the streets. Activist groups have even sprung up in response to the issue. One such group, Safe Street Rebel, created a viral protest by placing traffic cones on the hoods of the self-driving cars, confusing the vehicles’ sensors and freezing them in place.

“Honk” If You’re Not Ready!

The response from San Francisco residents poses an unexpected challenge for Google and General Motors as they look to expand their self-driving car initiatives across the country.

To clear this roadblock, Cruise took out newspaper ads stating, “Humans are terrible drivers.” It cited nearly 43,000 fatalities from car accidents in the past year.

Both companies have invested billions into developing driverless cars. The technology appears to finally be there. But is consumers’ willingness to use it?

The debate is limited to San Francisco for the time being. With the presence of self-driving cars expanding throughout the likes of Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Austin, and Nashville, it’s sure to reach the national conversation quickly.

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