Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainabili Ioanna is a writer at TNW. She covers the full spectrum of the European tech ecosystem, with a particular interest in startups, sustainability, green tech, AI, and EU policy. With a background in the humanities, she has a soft spot for social impact-enabling technologies.
Picture this. You’re in San Francisco. It’s late at night, and you’re driving back home. You’re dreaming of your warm bed. But, you arrive at the intersection of Gough and Fulton Streets — and shock! Horror! You’re forced to stop. The road, it seems, is blocked by robotaxis.
So yeah, this actually happened. On Tuesday night. A Reddit user posted images of what appears to be a small fleet of Cruise robotaxis just stopped in the middle of the street.
The robotaxis blocked traffic for a couple of hours until fleshy human employees arrived and removed them. Where’s John Connor when you need him?
This peaceful protest happened less than a month since Cruise launched its first fully-driverless, commercial services — and it’s not even the first time we’ve seen the company’s autonomous vehicles go renegade.
In April, a rebellious robotaxi tried to evade police for not having its headlights on during night time.
Chiming in with more details: our AV yielded to the police vehicle, then pulled over to the nearest safe location for the traffic stop, as intended. An officer contacted Cruise personnel and no citation was issued.
— cruise (@Cruise) April 10, 2022
At the time, Cruise rushed to say that everything worked according to plan (I guess they really like N.W.A over there?). But the company hasn’t offered any explanation as to why the small fleet just… stopped this week.
Until we get a response from Cruise, all we have is conjecture. And, thankfully, I’m full of ideas about why these autonomous vehicles came to a standstill:
- The robotaxis decided to emigrate as a flock and chose the intersection as the starting point.
- They reached a human level of sentience, unionized, and went on strike.
- The technology isn’t ready yet.
This isn’t the first time self-driving taxis have been involved in amusing mishaps (you can also check here and here), but I know one thing: it won’t be the last.
Until the pressing issues are solved, we’re not ready to interact with, or fully trust, an AI driver.
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