Move Over Ride Share Companies, A New Robot Taxi Is In Town…

Waymo Robotaxi

Waymo, a self driving robot taxi company, has been authorized to operate in parts of Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The authorization allows Waymo’s vehicles to drive at the speed limit on local roads and highways, but only in approved areas. According to Waymo, they have no plans to expand to freeways. As expected, the government initially put the expansion on hold for “further review” due to protests from several different agencies. The concerns surrounding the robotaxis is due to several crashes that have occurred in the last year or so. Luckily for Waymo, the California Public Utilities Commission has decided to allow the expansion since Waymo has exhibited a commitment to improving their safety and technology. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation was not happy about the decision. They demanded formal evidentiary hearings. A government agency objecting to technological improvements? I’m shocked.

The decision to allow self driving cars will always be controversial. Giving up autonomy to computers and machines has been at issue since the advent of the telephone. What is interesting is that there are way more crashes involving non-self driving cars. Self driving car crashes are so rare that they are a big deal and always make the news. Does that mean we should allow self driving cars to replace all vehicles? It is a tough question to answer. What would happen if all cars were self driving? Would we eliminate a majority of crashes? Would DUI’s be a thing of the past? My biggest worry as a civil libertarian is that we are giving control of our movement to a computer that can either be hacked, or eventually controlled by the government. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I enjoy having my vehicle under my control, and not giving control to a computer that is way smarter than the average person.

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Updated: 04/10/2024