Driverless cars


Los Angeles Times staff writer Russ Mitchell filed a worrying report about the state of driverless cars in his state, and how badly they’ve been handing specific safety situations. I knew driverless cars had issues, but strap in for this.

San Francisco’s fire chief is fed up with robotaxis that mess with her firetrucks. And L.A. is next

The article highlights five incidents:

Running through yellow emergency tape and ignoring warning signs to enter a street strewn with storm-damaged electrical wires, then driving past emergency vehicles with some of those wires snarled around rooftop lidar sensors.

Twice blocking firehouse driveways, requiring another firehouse to dispatch an ambulance to a medical emergency.

Sitting motionless on a one-way street and forcing a firetruck to back up and take another route to a blazing building.

Pulling up behind a firetruck that was flashing its emergency lights and parking there, interfering with firefighters unloading ladders.

Entering an active fire scene, then parking with one of its tires on top of a fire hose.

Granted, human drivers can also be reckless, irresponsible, and life-threatening. But that’s not an argument for driverless cars; fast metal boxes in dense urban areas will always be dangerous, regardless of whether the operator is a human or a computer program not fit for purpose.

The only real solution is a reduction in car dependency. This can only happen with a concerted and mature approach to public transport, and changing roads to properly accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. Anything else is window dressing… assuming the car ploughed into a house with curtains.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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