Rideshare drivers gathered in front of Google’s Venice headquarters to protest the expansion of Waymo self-driving cars in LA.
VENICE, CA — Ride share drivers gathered in front of Google’s Venice headquarters Tuesday morning to protest the expansion of Waymo self-driving cars in Los Angeles.
“When I say Waymo, you say hell no,” protestors chanted outside the headquarters as they rallied to highlight ongoing safety concerns with the robotaxis. The rally coincided with the release of Alphabet, Inc.’s, the parent company of Google and Waymo, Q3 2023 earnings report.
“Waymo’s parent company Alphabet tries to portray itself as one of the good guys, but we know all too well that big tech has a hard time being good to public safety and working people,” said Teamsters Board Member Lindsay Dougherty.
At the start of this month, Waymo began offering residents in Venice and Santa Monica early access tickets to ride in the fully autonomous vehicles through LA. The Waymo One tour is precedes an anticipated wider service launch in the city.
Waymo cars are equipped with cameras, lidar and other sensors to navigate the city, which was 3-D mapped in 2019 during a study of LA’s congestion in high-traffic areas. Waymo first came to L.A. in October 2022 to begin their testing only carrying Waymo employees, with the goal of eventually providing a paid ride service to the general public.
Now, according to Jesús Garcia, rideshare drivers are fighting displacement on top of their ongoing concerns about exploitation as independent contractors.
“If there’s really nobody controlling these vehicles, we risk bike lines and public transportation. We’re fighting every single day to better our infrastructure in public when it comes to buses and cyclists,” Garcia said.
On top of the concerns about driver displacement, Garcia said there are many who have raised concerns about the safety of the Waymo cars. In San Francisco, police and fire departments said they counted 55 incidents where self-driving cars have gotten in the way of rescue operations in the last six months, NPR reported.
“It’s clear that this technology is not ready to be introduced into our roads and our cities. Our firefighters have a hard enough time navigating through the congested streets of LA,” said LA County Federation of Labor President Yvonne Wheeler.