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Mission District cabbie attacks self-driving car

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The second such attack on a driving robot in the neighborhood in four weeks

It happened again.

Less than four weeks after an unidentified man on Valencia Street attempted to tackle a self-driving car while it waited at an intersection, another neighborhood taxi driver took matters into his own hands by stopping in the middle of traffic to deliver a blow to a robot car hard enough to scratch the window.

According to a report to the DMV (state law requires car companies to publicly report all accidents and mishaps while testing autonomous vehicles on public streets, no matter how minor), the confrontation happened on January 28 on Duboce Avenue near the corner of Guerrero.

As the automated GM Cruise’s human safety driver testifies, he was “stopped behind a taxi” and then “the driver of the taxi exited his vehicle, approached the Cruise AV, and slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch. There were no injuries and police were not called.”

Yes, a Mission cabbie, perhaps overwhelmed with ire at the sight of the technology that will replace most professional drivers on San Francisco streets, got out of his car and slapped that technology in the face. Even though the car was being manually operated at the time.

So far this year self-driving cars have gotten into accidents seven times on California roads, four times involving GM Cruise vehicles, including rear-endings and a smash-up between a robot car and a piece of parked construction equipment. All were minor incidents that caused only a little damage.

Continental AG Showcases New Automotive Technologies
A demonstration of a self-driving car system in Germany in June of 2017.
Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times notes that “of the six accidents reported [by March 5] three were in autonomous mode and three in manual mode. The four that did not involve human attack were of the fender-bender variety.”

On top of the two Mission assaults, a GM Cruise driver claims that in September of 2017 a drunk bicyclist in SoMa used his bike as a weapon against the car.

Whether or not the street assaults are a reaction to self-driving cars themselves or just the usual San Francisco weirdness nobody can say for sure. On the flip side, only a handful of autonomous vehicle accidents have resulted in significant injury for a human.