How Pedestrians Can Feel Safe Around Robotaxis

Despite concerns and uncertainties about the future of driverless cars in San Francisco, pedestrians can have confidence that robotaxis will prioritize their safety. According to Billy Riggs, a driverless vehicle expert and University of San Francisco business professor, robotaxis are designed to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists and are equipped with technology to detect and avoid objects in their surroundings.

Waymo cars even have domes on top of their vehicles that display symbols indicating their actions, such as a passenger exiting the car, to ensure that pedestrians and bicyclists are aware of their movements. Riggs emphasizes that there is a greater tendency for automated vehicles to engage in yielding behaviors compared to human drivers.

To further reassure pedestrians, Riggs mentions that testing self-driving cars by attempting to force a collision is extremely difficult. In fact, none of the incident reports filed by Cruise and Waymo in 2023 injured a pedestrian, and only a few incidents involved cyclists. Riggs attributes this to the cautious driving speed of these vehicles, as they adhere strictly to city speed limits to ensure pedestrian safety.

One common anxiety surrounding autonomous vehicles is the right-turn-on-red maneuver. While Cruise cars are programmed to strictly avoid this, Waymo vehicles still perform right turns on red, but less frequently and in adherence to local driving laws. Although right-turn-on-red crashes are rare, statistics show that 93% of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes resulting from this maneuver cause injuries.

In the event that issues arise, pedestrians have limited options for recourse. Waymo vehicles, for example, have QR codes affixed to them, which allows riders to submit feedback. Cruise also provides a help line for complaints.

Riggs advises pedestrians to be assertive and claim their space on the road, as automated vehicles do not drive aggressively or display emotions. By being aware of their surroundings and confidently navigating around robotaxis, pedestrians can feel safe sharing the road with these vehicles.

Source: The Standard
– Robotaxi: A self-driving taxi service.
– The Standard: Article by Joshua Bote – no URL provided.