Tech companies have been touting self-driving cars as the future of transportation for over a decade now. Companies like Cruise, Waymo, and Zoox all have active programs testing their autonomous vehicles in US cities like San Francisco, Phoenix, and Austin. Their cars have run endless loops around town to train their algorithms, zipping along city streets—and occasionally blocking them. While the tech has clearly gotten better and Waymo and Cruise now have permission to operate fully autonomously in California, the computer-powered taxis have also driven up some controversy with local governments, safety officials, city residents, and drivers.
This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED transportation writer Aarian Marshall joins us to talk about how a vote this week in California will affect robotaxi adoption in cities across the country, and what happens when our roadways are inundated with robots.
Read Aarian’s story about how ride-hailing service drivers are responding to self-driving taxis. Read all of WIRED’s coverage of autonomous vehicles.
Aarian recommends calling company customer support and trying to talk to a human sometimes. Mike recommends listening to comedy albums on streaming services. Lauren recommends her other podcast Have a Nice Future, particularly the episode with the artist Grimes.
Aarian Marshall can be found on Twitter @AarianMarshall. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.
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