Never Stop Driving #62: Autonomous rejection


I didn’t see the fight coming. This past week, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a resolution to allow Waymo and Cruise to increase driverless taxi services. The two companies, which face huge pressure to show that the billions invested in autonomous technology will someday return profits, can now operate robotaxis 24 hours a day and charge for the service. Not so fast, responded San Francisco, the city that will be most impacted by the ruling. The SF city attorney is likely to petition the state to revisit the resolution.

The day after the ruling, 10 driverless taxis suddenly stopped working in the city’s North Beach neighborhood, clogging streets like a cork in a bottle. Naturally, bystanders filmed the chaos. The problem reportedly was an overtaxed cellphone network caused by a nearby concert. “I know this is the way the tech is going,” San Francisco Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson told The Washington Post, “and this is the way the industry is going, and that’s fine, but don’t shove it down our throats.” Safety officials are concerned that disabled robotaxis could prevent emergency vehicles from responding.

Autonomous technology is proving to be the disruptor we all knew it would be. Since human drivers also create plenty of chaos, the question remains whether robotaxis are better or worse. That’s the experiment playing out in San Fran. I assumed that the tech industry’s home would be more welcoming. Clearly, I was wrong. And although we certainly can expect many more twists and turns in this experiment, our collective fears that we would no longer be able to drive cars ourselves seem far less acute than five years ago.

This week, thousands of people who love to put their hands on a steering wheel and their right foot on an accelerator pedal are converging on California’s Monterey Peninsula for the annual collector car festivities that are capped by the Pebble Beach Concours on Sunday (check out our live broadcast on our Facebook page). I’m one of them and even if I can’t afford the pristine vehicles arrayed on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, the fun of Monterey Car Week is that no matter where you go, you’l stumble across interesting cars, often parked on the street. And if, like me, you enjoy watching other people spend big piles of their money, the high-end car auctions at Monterey usually result in headline sales, which we’ll examine in detail at

Ever wonder how horsepower is made? This week we debuted a video showing how Hagerty’s Davin Reckow increased the horsepower of the V-8 he rebuilt for the 1937 Ford Snowball dirt-track racer. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do. We also covered this year’s record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats and a homebuilt car that resembles the Tesla Cybertruck.

Have a great weekend!

P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

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    It took a few years for automotive “journalists” to catch up with the fact that AVs were not a solution that would actually work outside of the boardroom and blogosphere.

    With the way things are going, this site will finally come to the realization that mass adoption of EVs will never happen by around 2027. That is, if this site is still in operation by then.

    Freedom by American standards and history is to be free to choose, our vehicles, our books our travels and all those freedoms not restricted by the Constitution. Remember the importance of “Congress shall pass no laws that………” expressly means our freedoms are NOT to be infringed on. If some want buggys, electric cars or windmills, then go for it – just don’t even try to shove agenda’s down our Citizens throats without OUR Choice! I choose to drive whatever i pay for, my car, my truck, my motorcycle, my motorhome, the important and paramount issue is “I Choose”, not anyone else’s agenda. Having fought in combat, wounded in action and Purple Heart recipient, it is my freedom of choice that is mine!

    I enjoy the material immensely and look forward to my Hagerty time every week. Thank you for your passion and insight to what the driving world is all about.

    The inspiration for Cybertruck is Curt Brubaker, a drawing from 1978. It’s not admitted, and Brubaker’s concept has nicer lines (to my eyes) and only two doors. If this link is allowed, others have written about it finally:

    As far as self-driving… dedicated lanes (like streetcars) where the robot cars can scurry all day long makes some sense (for some places). What’s being tried… doesn’t to me.

    A side note – there was a recent article about where couples were having sex in robotaxi’s . . . whatever . . .

    At least the driverless cars can’t be carjacked! I thought that California passed AB5 to protect the drivers of Uber and Lyft; to insure they make a living wage with benefits. These cars pretty much insure that those drivers won’t make any wages.

    I live in San Francisco and there are many cry babies here. City government officials want safer streets, zero traffic fatalities, lower auto congestion and less carbon emissions. Autonomous vehicles can be a solution to these goals yet they want to contain them. What we really need is an end to this one political party rule that has plaque this city and for that matter California far too long. Too much entitlements.

    I know that autonomous cars are a thing for the future, but it does seem that since covid, technology has sped things up too much and not everyone is able to keep up. Neither has technology been able to keep up, in some areas. Like my phone, a 5g, at my home, only gets 2 bars. Yet my old 3g phone got 5 bars and I never had a problem with it, ever.
    Me, I do not wish to participate in the driver less cars. As the liability issues haven’t been worked out yet. But the industry keeps moving forward without consideration of human lives.

    I enjoy your comments but you are in California and I am in South Carolina- worlds apart. Interests in cars brings us together. However, San Fran is viewed in a questionable light. What happens there is unlikely representative of the rest of the country. Kind of like New Your City. Something to consider.

    I was amused by the driverless taxi that drove into wet concrete and got stuck .

    I’m old and somewhat a Luddite so I don’t want driverless cars sharing the road with me or those I care about .


    Two points:
    1. These bumps create headlines but people in the know tell me that – statistically– autonomous cars are vastly safer than those driven by people.
    2. I just got home from Car Week. I hope you are pleased, Larry, with the auction result for the first 308 GT4: $405k not including buyer’s premium. It remains one of my favorite Ferrari designs and I saw this one up close.

    What people fail to realize is–that the American Taxpayer is paying BIG TIME for all of this experimentation!
    The EV People and Driverless Vehicles proponents are not doing this FOR the American Citizen for the Public Good! No sir–they are lining their pockets!

    The scariest part of automatic vehicles is that everyone assumes they will all be functionally 100% operational. How many people (or companies, for that matter), keep their cars at 100%?

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