Robot Taxi Rally Blocks Road: Robot Taxi Uprising

In San Francisco, robotic taxis have ganged up and blocked a street – the cause is unclear. Apparently there are problems with the artificial intelligence – again.

So-called artificial intelligence (AI) experiences a hype every few decades – for a few years it’s that time again: Some manufacturers are now marketing even the memory function of car seats as such an artificial “intelligence”. The machine learning algorithms are also important for autonomous driving – and occasionally produce bizarre or dangerous results. Now there is a traffic jam of robot taxis in San Francisco – probably caused by artificial intelligence.


Caused by GM subsidiary Cruise

The mob was caused by autonomous taxis from Cruise, a company founded in San Francisco in October 2008. Cruise has been part of GM since March 2016 and forms the core of the company with regard to everything to do with autonomous driving. However, GM has been developing its Super Cruise system for semi-autonomous driving since April 2013 – so the roots of this technology lie with GM itself. Cruise, in turn, tested robot taxis on site with the permission of the city of San Francisco before the takeover by GM – Cruise is now allowed to do so use fully autonomous taxis in regular operation at night in some districts.



Cars were empty

A user of the social news website Reddit was the first to report the incident he observed on Tuesday night (June 29, 2022): The photos show five Chevrolet Bolt-based robotic taxis driving on the multi-lane Gough Street (off Fulton Street). In the meantime, cruise managers have commented on the traffic jam – they emphasize that no passengers were affected. They also sheepishly admit that the blockage was only resolved after a few hours. The employees were still able to remotely control some of the cars by radio, and they had to get into others to drive them away from the Robotaxi meeting.


Twitter/Taylor Ogan

Autonomous taxis gathered in San Francisco during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday and blocked the road for several hours.

Third incident in three months

Those responsible for the cruise have not yet commented on the possible reasons for the robot meeting. There have already been two other incidents involving cruise vehicles in the recent past. In April 2022, for example, a police officer stopped a Cruise robot taxi because it was driving at night with its headlights switched off. When the policeman was standing next to the car, it started again, only to stop again a little later. At the time, Cruise asserted that the vehicle only wanted to come to a standstill in a more traffic-friendly position. Another incident dates back to May 2022: At that time, a fire engine could not drive past a parked garbage truck in the opposite lane because an empty and motionless cruise robot taxi was parked in this lane. While a human driver would likely have given way to the fire truck, the Cruise robot didn’t dodge. San Francisco city officials then filed a report with the California Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for approving robotic vehicles, that “this incident slowed the SFFD’s response to a fire that started resulted in property damage and personal injury.” In this case, the malfunction of a robot car apparently even indirectly led to injuries.


opinion poll

It will help us a lot in the future and will eventually be smarter than us humans.

This is total nonsense that will cause us more trouble than good.



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Conclusion

In San Francisco, robotic taxis operated by local operator Cruise autonomously assembled and blocked some lanes of a multi-lane highway for hours. Employees of the GM subsidiary Cruise had to drive away some of the robot cars themselves – otherwise they could no longer be removed from the meeting place.

The reasons for the incident are not yet known. The fact that several vehicles assembled autonomously at one point and then apparently shut down together suggests that the control software failed. In autonomous vehicles, this is partly based on mathematical algorithms for so-called artificial intelligence. The use of the term “intelligence” alone, which is probably due to marketing, is controversial in this context – for example, it triggers deep rejection or amusement among some established mathematicians. In addition, the technology is not able to calculate emotional factors – which also play a role in human driving.

This incident only proves that the road to smooth journeys with autonomous vehicles is still a long way off and that humans are no longer fully in control of the complex system of calculation algorithms they have created.

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