The advent of new technology is accompanied by complaints, as is the case with Wing's delivery drones. In self-driving cars, however, there were more radical expressions of dissatisfaction. While Waymo tests and operates vehicles in Phoenix, some residents of Arizona have threatened or even damaged the cars.
A The New York Times reports today of incidents first recorded by the [ Arizona Republic earlier this month. Since 2017, there have been at least 21 attacks, ranging in severity from seemingly pure nonsense to more serious acts.
The most outrageous incident occurred in August, when a man armed with a gun tried to scare the security driver into an autonomous Chrysler Pacifica. The man in question cited the Uber incident, which killed a pedestrian earlier this year, and was eventually charged with severe assault and disorderly conduct.
Another security driver has been threatened with a PVC pipe, while other incidents have thrown people throwing rocks and blocking routes and cutting the tires of Waymo vehicles. There are also attempts to derail the car while driving autonomously. A certain Jeep tried last year to hurl the Chrysler Pacificas six times off the road.
In all these cases, Waymo or the security drivers have not filed any charges. The Alphabet Department instructs its drivers to first contact the internal dispatch system in case of incidents.
In fact, the contact with the police should be kept to a minimum, with an incident being reported only four days after its occurrence. After the NYT Waymo is in some cases unwilling to provide footage of the attack. This avoids the benefit of self-driving vehicles, which always records a video of everything that happens around the car.
Waymo notes that these incidents represent only a small fraction of the operation, and they huddled against the narrative that they did not want to avoid bad advertising charges. The incidents did not avert Alphabet, and Waymo noted that "in the past two years, Arizona's have been inviting and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safer."