Self-driving cars have been flooding the streets of San Francisco for quite some time now while they are being tested by a few different companies wanting to put them to market soon. Two of the companies, Cruise and Waymo, are using the cars as self-driving taxis, or robotaxis, to test how they handle different routes and people in the vehicles. However, residents of the city are not happy with the robot takeover of the streets.
San Francisco residents have outspokenly complained many times in the past regarding different tech companies using them as guinea pigs. For the most part though, in the past, you could just not participate in the tests, and you would remain relatively unaffected. That is not the case with the robotaxis, as they take up space on the streets, leaving others around them to have to deal with them in their testing stages.
A group of “safe street activists” in the city made a discovery that is helping them fight against robotaxis.
They discovered that a traffic cone on the hood of one of the driverless cars renders it confused and unmovable. It disables the car as it is no longer able to decipher how to safely continue driving.
This discovery has led to a viral social media trend, called “The Week of Cone.” The trend that is taking over Twitter and TikTok is not just a funny prank to the people doing it, but also their way of protesting against tech companies always testing on them, especially these companies like Waymo and Cruise.
Residents are tired of Waymo and Cruise’s presence in the city as the driverless cars malfunction frequently and leave others on the road to have to deal with the repercussions, such as traffic jams and even accidents.
Currently, the two companies are scheduled to have a hearing that will determine if they are able to expand their practices. The hearing is with the California Public Utilities Commission and is scheduled for July 13th. The Commission is not the determining agency that ultimately allows the companies to operate their cars on the streets, but they do allow them to charge money for their services, which would be an extension of their taxi services.
The ultimate goal for the “Week of Cone” movement is to spread the word about protests against the car companies in order to get more people vocally speaking out against them before the hearing happens.