Austin mayor expresses concerns over wave of self-driving cars, rail opposition

Autonomous car companies need to do a better job of working with cities to avoid costly failures, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said Monday.

Watson added that moves last year by the state of Texas to preempt local control had hurt the city’s ability to guarantee safety.

Last week, Waymo, an affiliate of Google parent company Alphabet, began field testing its autonomous taxis without drivers in Austin — the first such initiative since the controversial failure of a GM-backed effort last year.

That company, Cruise, suspended its operations in the city after a wave of complaints and pedestrian injuries led to scrutiny from both local emergency officials and federal regulators.

“I’m all for profit margins and stuff, but ultimately the public good has to play a role in this, and it shouldn’t be sacrificed, and it shouldn’t be secondary to the profit of the private entity,” Watson said.

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