Watch This Journalist’s Agonizing Experience Trying a Robotaxi For The First Time

Press photo of the Robotaxi service, Waymo
Press photo of the Robotaxi service, Waymo

A robotaxi is a concept from a futuristic age that runs on on high-productivity, automation, and where everyone’s life is like a green, clean paradise.

But with artificial-intelligence (A.I.) becoming a tool that is becoming more evolved and implemented into modern technology every day, there have been many growing concerns surrounding it. Will companies start using it to the point that it would take people’s jobs? How reliable is it? Can we trust it enough to not turn on humanity and not pave the way for the rise of the machines? While many of these worries are legitimate, some instances may pleasantly prove us wrong.

The Regretful Robotaxi Experience

Journalist Lyanne Melendez of ABC 7 in San Francisco decided to document her first robotaxi experience by ordering a ride from the self-driving cab service, Waymo to go pick up her son from a local museum. All you have to do is order a ride like it is an Uber or a Lyft, and the car will drive itself to you and drop you off at your destination. At least, that was the idea.

What was intended to be a simple A-to-B ride to the Randall Museum turned into an additional seventeen steps that involved stopping at green lights, missing turns, arriving at the wrong destination, calling support, etc.

“Had there been a driver here I would have said “Hey, you know, this is the wrong location! and I’d give him the instructions except there’s nobody here right now,” Melendez said in her report. She notes that when the robotaxi said it arrived at her destination, it had dropped her off in the middle of a steep hill that was a five-minute walk from where she wanted to go. This would serve to be very difficult for anyone that is physically disabled, pregnant, or parents with small children, which are the same people this service is intended to assist.

At the end of it all, Melendez grew so frustrated with her inaugural robotaxi service that when she got home, she took her own personal car to pick up her son from the museum.

What Does This Mean For AI?

Melendez’s experience is not uncommon for other San Francisco residents, who have expressed great frustration with many robotaxi vehicles causing disruptions on busy streets, not recognizing police officers directing traffic, construction zones, etc. It actually reached a point to where they can vote on whether or not these robotaxis will be able to operate 24 hours a day.

At the end of the day, what this story has taught us is that as perfect and sophisticated we may assume A.I. is, these services are proof that it isn’t always as smart as we may think.

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