Arizona: People are violently attacking driverless cars from Google/Alphabet's Waymo

People like this guy waving his gun at a driverless Waymo van in Arizona are attacking self-driving vehicles with rocks, knives, and *their own cars*, sending a message to tech companies like Waymo, which is owned by Alphabet (Google's parent company). That message is, please go experiment with artificial intelligence in somebody else's neighborhood.

In the video above, a pissed off guy in Chandler, Arizona waves his gun at a passing Waymo van.

He got in trouble for it, but man, I can empathize.

By the way, the image was captured by surveillance cameras on the Waymo van, provided to the police, and sort of proving the dude's point.

There have been accidents in the area involving the autonomous vans.

The New York Times reports on the tire-slashing of a driverless vehicle that once happily roamed the streets of Chandler, which isn't far from Phoenix. There have been 21 violent attacks on driverless cars there in the last few years.

Waymo started testing self-driving vehicles in Chandler in 2016.

Waymo did not ask the human residents if they were cool with it.

They're not cool with it.

Excerpt from the NYT report:

In ways large and small, the city has had an early look at public misgivings over the rise of artificial intelligence, with city officials hearing complaints about everything from safety to possible job losses.

Some people have pelted Waymo vans with rocks, according to police reports. Others have repeatedly tried to run the vehicles off the road. One woman screamed at one of the vans, telling it to get out of her suburban neighborhood. A man pulled up alongside a Waymo vehicle and threatened the employee riding inside with a piece of PVC pipe.

In one of the more harrowing episodes, a man waved a .22-caliber revolver at a Waymo vehicle and the emergency backup driver at the wheel. He told the police that he "despises" driverless cars, referencing the killing of a female pedestrian in March in nearby Tempe by a self-driving Uber car.

"There are other places they can test," said Erik O'Polka, 37, who was issued a warning by the police in November after multiple reports that his Jeep Wrangler had tried to run Waymo vans off the road — in one case, driving head-on toward one of the self-driving vehicles until it was forced to come to an abrupt stop.

Sounds like human interactions with driverless cars are Waymo challenging than the tech company foresaw.

I'll go get my coat and be outta here now.

Go read the rest here.

You can also go read all the original reporting on this 'attacking driverless cars in Arizona' phenomenon in the Arizona Republic.


A Waymo self-driving van cruised through a Chandler neighborhood Aug. 1 when test driver Michael Palos saw something startling as he sat behind the wheel — a bearded man in shorts aiming a handgun at him as he passed the man's driveway.

The incident is one of at least 21 interactions documented by Chandler police during the past two years where people have harassed the autonomous vehicles and their human test drivers.

People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.

Many of the people harassing the van drivers appear to hold a grudge against the company, a division of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc., which has tested self-driving technology in the Chandler area since 2016.

[via @kimmurphy]