It's impossible to issue a fine for driverless cars, but that's it for now

San Francisco (USA) has become a real testing ground for hundreds of self-driving cars in recent years and now suffers from impunity for robotic cars.

The fact is that law enforcement agencies can only issue fines to people, and not to autonomous vehicles operating without a driver.. The incident received great publicity when the police were unable to bring to justice the perpetrator of a collision with a pedestrian: a robot taxi seriously injured a person.

California law enforcement agencies, even in this case, when the culprit is identified and there is evidence, their hands are tied — the driver is responsible for the accident, and in a robotic taxi there is no such person.

San Francisco residents and local activists are calling for a review of laws and a focus on police efforts to bring those responsible to justice.. In this case, a specific reference is made to the owners of such vehicles who provide taxi services and receive money for it.

Self-driving car technology maker Waymo said it has permission to operate 250 robotaxis in San Francisco, with nearly 100 vehicles operating simultaneously.. Cruise, which is owned by GM and stopped all services after the pedestrian incident, runs 100 vehicles during the day and about 300 at night.

Self-driving car pioneer Waymo's robotaxi picks up passengers at a stop in Phoenix, San Francisco. Photo: Associated Press/Matt York

Autonomous vehicle makers stand their ground and say their cars are safe. To date, Cruise and Waymo have had no fatalities related to their autonomous vehicles.. At the same time, Waymo's robotaxis have driven at least 11 million kilometers, and Cruise has already driven more than 8 million kilometers before the recent incident with a pedestrian.

«We're still trying to understand whether driverless cars are actually safer than human drivers, and how they might be dangerous.. And while robotaxis make fewer mistakes from human drivers, they create new types of mistakes,” Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University, told NBC.

The local fire department has logged nearly 60 reports of «driverless vehicles interfering with their operations,» including an incident in which firefighters had to break the window of a Cruise car to prevent it from running over a fire hose.

A pedestrian crosses the road in front of a Cruise autonomous vehicle on Gough Street in San Francisco.. Photo: Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

In other states, these problems have already been removed from the agenda, bringing legislative norms into line with current challenges. For example, in Texas, the state of Tesla, the owners of unmanned vehicles are legally held accountable for violating traffic rules.

Arizona, which has become America's center for autonomous driving, is working on the same thing, preparing laws that would allow owners of autonomous vehicles to be fined for violating traffic laws or subject to other penalties if the vehicle does not comply with traffic rules or technical condition.