While the vehicles have been tested here since 2018, they’ve more recently been allowed to drive around on roads during the daytime without safety drivers — people who are paid to be on standby in the driver’s seat in case something goes wrong. Waymo started one year ago, Cruise at the end of 2021, though they’ve been steadily increasing the numbers. That’s led to an uptick in incidents, residents say, from harmless traffic jams to accidents such as the rear-ending of a public bus.
Living adjacent to Silicon Valley, San Franciscans are used to being beta test subjects for Big Tech. They’ve previously been privy to the launch of Uber and ride hailing, Airbnb short-term rentals, dockless electric scooters and sidewalk robots.
But some residents are starting to question that arrangement, particularly as driverless-vehicle companies eye a next phase: offering rides to people in more places, 24 hours a day.