AV protesters in San Francisco using traffic cones to sabotage Robotaxis

A group of safe streets activists in San Francisco have found a way to disable Cruise and Waymo robotaxis by placing traffic cones on the vehicles’ hoods. They have named this prank the “Week of Cone” and are encouraging others to join in as a form of protest against the proliferation of robotaxi services in the city. This protest comes ahead of a hearing that will likely lead to the expansion of Waymo and Cruise’s robotaxi services in San Francisco. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is set to approve the expansion, which would allow these companies to charge passengers for their services. However, there has been opposition to this expansion, with concerns about the impact on traffic, public transit, and emergency responders. The Safe Street Rebel group is using the cone campaign to raise awareness and gather public comments to be submitted to the CPUC before the hearing. They argue that these companies promise to reduce traffic, but instead, their vehicles block roads and cause inconvenience. While there have been instances of accidents involving autonomous vehicles, such as the recent incident where a Waymo vehicle hit and killed a dog, there is no evidence to support claims that these companies are working with law enforcement to record everyone all the time. The group raises a common concern about the lack of public input in the deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads. State departments of transportation and departments of motor vehicles are responsible for most regulation in this area, as congressional efforts have been slow. Waymo has criticized the cone hack as vandalism, but it is unlikely that it will result in any legal consequences. Despite the protests, it is expected that the CPUC will approve the expansion of these robotaxi services, as there is support from other stakeholders. The agency deems the proposed services to have minimal safety risks.

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