HomeTechnologyHow Google's Waymo car fire reveals a major challenge for self-driving cars...

How Google’s Waymo car fire reveals a major challenge for self-driving cars | – Times of India



“On the first day of Chinese New Year, a seasoned San Francisco cab driver would likely have avoided the bustling intersection of Jackson Street and Grant Avenue in the heart of the city’s Chinatown. However, an autonomous Waymo robotaxi contrast, drove toward the cross streets. Autonomous Waymo robotaxis are owned by Google parent Alphabet.
On February 10 evening, despite crowds blocking all sides and revelers lighting fireworks, the Waymo proceeded toward the cross streets. Witnesses reported that minutes later, some individuals in the crowd attacked the car and set it on fire. Just before the Waymo was attacked, the streets had been largely empty of cars as pedestrians flocked to the fireworks. Some vehicles turned around or backed up after seeing the crowds, according to a Reuters witness.
A few cars crept through the intersection periodically, as crowds parted to let them pass. The Waymo was attacked when it stopped as it approached the crowd, holding up a couple of cars behind it, said Michael Vandi, another witness.
The incident, as a report by news agency Reuters points, underscores the challenges faced by robotic cars in making judgment calls. As said Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, told Reuters, “Most normal car drivers know that they have to avoid Chinatown during the Lunar New Year holidays. The computer doesn’t understand that.” He has called for more regulation of self-driving cars.
Hostility, AI fears or more
Hostility toward self-driving vehicles stems from various concerns, including safety, potential job displacement for human drivers, and a broader fear of artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, in San Francisco, where autonomous vehicles have become commonplace, some residents advocate for their safety compared to human drivers.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed condemned the Chinatown Waymo incident as a “dangerous and destructive act of vandalism.” Simultaneously, she praised the city’s role as a testing ground for cutting-edge technologies like self-driving cars, which are reshaping our world.
This destructive event follows a recent incident where another Waymo car struck a bicyclist. In October, a self-driving vehicle from GM-owned Cruise hit and dragged a pedestrian, leading California to suspend Cruise’s driverless testing license. Despite these challenges, the development of autonomous vehicles continues to evolve, with both promise and controversy.
To sum, as California state Senator Dave Cortese, said, “What is becoming abundantly clear is that AV technology is not as sophisticated as the industry would like us to believe.”





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