Humans Already Slapped And Attacked Autonomous Cars In California Twice This Year

Illustration for article titled Humans Already Slapped And em/emAttacked Autonomous Cars In California Twice This Year
Photo: Alexander Koerner (Getty Images)

One of the benefits of California’s autonomous car regulations—though they could be vastly improved upon!—is that collisions with a robot vehicle must be reported to the state’s department of motor vehicles, even if they’re incredibly minor. That’s why we now know that, of the six incidents reported so far this year, two involve humans approaching robot cars and literally attacking them.


That figure was highlighted this week in a brief story by the Los Angeles Times.

On Jan. 2, a Chevy Bolt EV operated by General Motors’ Cruise driverless car division in San Francisco’s Mission District was waiting at a green light for pedestrians to cross when a man “ran across Valencia Street against the ‘do not walk’ symbol, shouting, and struck the left side of the Cruise AV’s rear bumper and hatch with his entire body,” damaging a tail light, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.


No one was injured and police weren’t called. At the time, the Cruise vehicle was operating in autonomous mode but a safety driver was at the wheel—the current law that’ll change as early as April.

Three weeks later, another GM car was involved in an incident on Duboce Avenue, when, the report says, “the driver of the taxi exited his vehicle, approached the Cruise AV, and slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch.” Again no injuries were reported and police weren’t called.

This doesn’t bode well for the future when more robot cars on on the road mixing with human drivers.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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Recovering Gaijin

I went and picked up stuff at our main office Fri. 298 mile round trip. Google maps says 2 hours 20 min each way. I’ve done the round trip in 5 hours( 10 min to hitch up trailer, then back on the road) Took me 7 hours because of the windy conditions ( 410,000 people without power because of wind in Virginia that day ). Decided I’m not up for autonomous cars now-much as I would like to have some of these drivers off the road.

I was in a 10,000lb truck that was still being blown around. But, I DO pay attention: when I saw a tornado of leaves at an underpass I slowed and crowded the shoulder. Sure enough, that vortex pushed me toward the left lane. Can we build a computer with sensors to see & evaluate that? I’ll give you that we can build that computer to react as I did when I saw the semi ahead of me get blown into the lane next to it: that’s not too hard.

Or watch a mattress on a pickup ahead of me start to levitate-how do you creat algorithyms for that? Or the sheet of plastic that flew up between the two interstate bridges from the road we were passing over. I know a computer can decide & react faster than I can. No question there. But it doesn’t have millions of years of evolution as predator-or-prey to hone its recognition parameters.

I was kinda hopeful that autonomous cars would be viable fairly soon, but Friday really swung that needle negatively for me. I’m already surrounded by idiots, I don’t want to have super-fast-acting ones around me.