Google-owned Waymo, which is known for its driverless autonomous taxi fleet, is facing backlash in San Francisco.
On Saturday, February 10th, a Waymo vehicle was stopped in San Francisco’s Chinatown and torched in the middle of the road.
The incident took place at roughly 9pm ET/6pm PT, when the streets were packed with people celebrating the Lunar New Year. The vehicle, which was operating without any passengers, was stopped and a firecracker was thrown inside it, causing it to catch fire.
— Michael Vandi (@michael_vandi) February 11, 2024
No one was injured in the incident. The San Francisco fire and police departments are currently investigating the motive and the identity of the vandalizers.
This comes less than a week after a Waymo vehicle collided with a cyclist in San Francisco, which is likely why the vehicle was targeted in the first place. According to witness Michael Vandi, a former Amazon software engineer, who shared information with Gizmodo, someone with a White hoodie first jumped on the hood of the Waymo car and smashed its windshield in. People then started breaking the vehicle’s windows with skateboards and subsequently threw lit fireworks under and inside the car, which caused it to catch fire.
People appear to have resentment toward autonomous taxis. Under a video of the incident posted on Threads, a user wrote, “Everybody commenting here has never had to deal with the Waymo shitshow in their city. If they did, they’d be Waymo understanding of this mob.” Another user wrote, “I don’t trust these cars. Another cyclist was hit on Tuesday 2/6 there in San Francisco. I wouldn’t like feeling like a guinea pig for some Google company in my city that has sued to keep the robot’s DMV accident records private.”
Image credit: Michael Vandi