Driverless Cars Cause Headaches for First Responders

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Driverless cars for everyday drivers do not exist, but a handful of cities in the country have allowed companies like Waymo to begin limited testing of autonomous taxis and other vehicles. Tech-heavy San Francisco is at the forefront of the movement, but its time with robo-taxis hasn’t been without drama

The cars have been known to wander into active fire scenes and others where first responders are busy saving people. One firefighter said he had to smash the window of the car to stop its progress, while a policeman had to throw a flare in front of the vehicle to make it stop.

Part of the problem comes from the expanded hours of operation that Waymo and others now enjoy. In the earliest days of testing, their operation was limited to 2 a.m. and other low-traffic times, but they’re now out in the daytime. The other part of the problem is that autonomous vehicles are exceptionally difficult to engineer and get right. On that point, an official told a local newspaper that “they’ve made every effort to work with us in public safety measures and be a good partner, but they do not have a good product.”

While humorous to read about from a distance, this issue can be serious for people waiting to be rescued. It also highlights how far we really are from a driverless future, no matter what automakers and tech companies say.

[Image: Waymo]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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