As we’ve highlighted many times before, tensions about autonomous taxis from Waymo, Cruise, and others in San Francisco have become quite the contentious issue. To show things haven’t calmed down but instead are escalating, an angry mob surrounded a Waymo taxi in the city recently, vandalizing and then burning it to the ground.
While those who took part in this act of property destruction represent the more extreme among the anti-robot taxi leaning constituents of San Francisco, there are many others who don’t have warm feelings towards the technology. After all, autonomous cars have caused traffic jams, hit pedestrians, killed a dog, driven into active emergency scenes, and caused many other problems.
Video of the incident, which unfolded in Chinatown, show a group of what appears to be mostly younger people standing around the robotaxi as a party-like atmosphere hangs in the air. There are others sitting on the hoods and roofs of parked cars, but then people start bashing the Waymo vehicle with skateboards and other objects.
They also tag the car using spray paint. Then someone decides to throw fireworks through one of the broken windows, which ignite and catch the autonomous vehicle on fire. The revelry continues as the taxi becomes an inferno.
Obviously, Chinatown was bustling with the Year of the Dragon celebrations in full swing, so having big crowds in the area likely was a contributing factor to this incident. But the boiling tensions about self-driving taxi services in San Francisco are a much larger part of the equation.
As driverless cars running in the city keep causing issues with traffic, pedestrian/cyclist safety, etc. we expect these sorts of incidents will only continue escalating. What the ultimate end of this situation will be is anyone’s guess at this point.
Images via San Francisco Fire Department
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#WATCH 🔴 Driverless Waymo car set ablaze in San Francisco's Chinatown during Chinese New Year celebrations. Individuals smashed the window and ignited fireworks inside the vehicle. Police are searching for at least 9 individuals involved in this act of vandalism. pic.twitter.com/pUh5X5T2Fe
— Voice of Europe 🌍 (@V_of_Europe) February 12, 2024
BREAKING: An autonomous Waymo vehicle is intentionally set on fire in Chinatown, according to SF Fire. Firefighters said they got reports around 10 people were involved.
Waymo said “a crowd surrounded and vandalized the vehicle, breaking the window and throwing a firework … pic.twitter.com/6QN2jTppRu
— Gia Vang (@Gia_Vang) February 11, 2024
Rampant Vandalism in SF Chinatown
Terrifying Scenes as Waymo Unmanned Car Engulfed in Flames after Fireworks Attack in San Francisco's Chinatown pic.twitter.com/02kW5bQzEv
— PODhobby (@PODhobby) February 11, 2024