In a disturbing incident in San Francisco, an autonomous vehicle owned by Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, fell prey to vandalism. This is not the first time that an autonomous vehicle has been targeted, raising concerns about the acceptance of this technology among the public.
Footage circulated on various social media platforms depicts multiple individuals first shattering the vehicle’s windows and then setting off fireworks inside the self-driving taxi. The vehicle subsequently caught fire and was completely burnt out. This incident took place in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, during the Chinese New Year celebrations, which draws a significant crowd. Fortunately, there were no passengers in the taxi at the time, and no injuries have been reported.
Over time, autonomous vehicles have faced increasing opposition in San Francisco. The local fire department has expressed frustration, citing that these vehicles frequently obstruct traffic flow. Additionally, drivers associated with ride-hailing services like Uber fear that the emergence of self-driving cars could render their services obsolete, leading to job losses.
Since the summer, Waymo and its competitor, Cruise, have been granted permission to operate their autonomous taxi services round-the-clock in San Francisco. However, Cruise’s operations have been on hold since October following an incident where a pedestrian was dragged several meters by one of their robot taxis. Despite these incidents, proponents of autonomous vehicles maintain that they are still a safer alternative to human-operated vehicles.