The Week of Cone 


Out in San Francisco, driverless cars from Waymo and Cruise have been providing taxi services for some time. Now, ahead of a meeting where the companies may be authorized to start charging for the service, a group of activists have started fighting back with a delightful orange weapon: traffic cones.

The group got the idea for the conings by chance. The person claims a few of them walking together one night saw a cone on the hood of an AV, which appeared disabled…[T]hey found that a cone on a hood renders the vehicles little more than a multi-ton hunk of useless metal. The group suspects the cone partially blocks the LIDAR detectors on the roof of the car, in much the same way that a human driver wouldn’t be able to safely drive with a cone on the hood. But there is no human inside to get out and simply remove the cone, so the car is stuck.

A self-driving car with a cone on its hood

While I’m hopeful about a possible future where driverless technology allows us to have far fewer private cars and far safer streets for everyone, forcing the general public to take part in testing without any consent is definitely not ideal. Mostly, though, I’m just tickled by the fact that a simple traffic cone can disable these things so effectively.