Waymo is pulling its self-driving cars out of San Francisco in response to election-day unrest,media The Verge reported. Google’s spin-off will “pause” testing of self-driving cars in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday and move the fleet to a “safe location” in Mountain View, according to an email from Travelo’s fleet operator.
Chris Cheung, transdev’s north American general manager, wrote in an email obtained by The Verge that the decision was made “out of a high degree of vigilance against planned protests during the election campaign.”
Two Waymo safety drivers told The Verge they were called at noon Monday to manually drive their self-driving car from San Francisco to Mountain View that afternoon. They then had to take Uber or Lyft back to their base in the city to get their private vehicles back. A Waymo spokesman said drivers would be reimbursed for the fares.
Zhang said in an email that San Francisco’s security drivers will be paid during the shutdown. The Mountain View-based Waymo fleet will continue to test on the roads.
In response, a Waymo spokesman said: “We will suspend our driving operations in San Francisco on November 3 and November 4 due to due care and taking into account the safety of our team.” “
Waymo isn’t the only organization predicting chaos on Election Day. Businesses across the United States have used wooden planks to close windows and tighten security measures to prevent protests and possible looting. The same is true in the San Francisco Bay Area, where windows at the Westin St. Francis Hotel near Union Square have been covered with plywood, KRON4 reported. The results of the election are not expected to be finalized on November 3rd and may not be known in the coming days.
The election will take place against the backdrop of a global pandemic, with protests across the United States against the killing of unarmed black men by police. In May, protests in the Bay Area led police to fire tear gas and injure demonstrators with rubber bullets. Hundreds of protesters marched peacefully in downtown San Francisco on Sunday ahead of the election.
This isn’t the first time Waymo has suspended its fleet of about 600 cars. The company suspended vehicle testing as early as March, when the new crown pandemic broke out. Some safety drivers have complained that the company has been slow to respond to the health crisis, but Waymo insists it has taken appropriate action.
The company resumed testing in the San Francisco Bay Area at the end of May, despite rising cases of COVID-19 in California and across the United States. Safety drivers have expressed concern that the company will continue to operate during a massive bushfire on the West Coast this summer. One day in early September, when air quality was registered as “very unhealthy,” Waymo finally stopped testing.