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Gizmodo Reports “Cruise and Waymo Self-Driving Taxis Terrorizing Transit Operators” in SF Muni
It turns out that robotaxi companies are creating havoc in – or as Gizmodo reports, “terrorizing” – San Francisco’s Muni transit system where TWU operators work. Widespread reports include incidents from September 2022 to March 2023 with robotaxis, operated by Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise, causing major transportation disruptions, crashing with transit buses, and blocking roads within the transit system’s road footprint. Between May and December 2022 driverless vehicles made “92 unplanned stops” with most of them occurring on transit routes. Watch video here as a Waymo car just stops in the middle of street and blocks Muni bus.
These chilling stories underscore why TWU is urging the Biden Administration’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue strong safety regulations that govern autonomous vehicle deployments and to turn the page from the Trump DOT policy of issuing irresponsible waivers and exemptions from federal safety requirements.
TWU Urges US DOT to End Trump Era Autonomous Vehicle “Regulatory Anarchy”
TWU has urged the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to shelve a Trump era proposal and end the “regulatory anarchy” that is permitting unsafe autonomous vehicles to travel, virtually unregulated, in our transportation system. In filed comments, TWU called on the Biden Administration’s DOT to advance “well enforced federal regulations that uphold the highest safety standards, support and protect the frontline workers, and ensure this era of autonomous transportation doesn’t expose passengers to serious safety risks resulting from shortsighted or wrongheaded public policies.”
In making the case for a “pause” of this proposal, TWU urged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “to direct the agency to develop and advance a new safety- and worker-centered regulatory regime…”
AI-Powered Rail Inspection Technology Targets Human Replacement
One company and apparently some transportation officials think an artificial intelligence-equipped system can replace humans for the inspection of rail equipment, track and tunnels. AutoFill Technologies, with funding from the Trump Administration’s Federal Transit Administration, is testing new tech designed to conduct inspections that do not “rely on humans.” Plans are to offer a “fully operational product” by 2024. Among AutoFill’s partners are Utah Transit Authority.
TWU Cautions Congress on Investments in Advanced Air Mobility R&D
TWU has urged House lawmakers against advancing research and development spending on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) before addressing questions of “job creation, worker displacement, up-skilling and training needs, as well as worker and union involvement in [AAM] development.”
“If Congress is going to prioritize federal investments into research and development in Advanced Air Mobility, we believe it must acknowledge and account for the safety and economic effects of those investments,” wrote TWU International President John Samuelsen in a letter to leadership of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “We know that many of these advanced air technologies have crashed with regularity during testing.”
What we’re reading
Haul Freight Without a Driver? Transport Dive
Several Big Airlines Betting Big on Electric Air Taxis Business Insider
Uber-like Transit Service in DE Delaware Online