Nearly two dozen civilian attacks on self-driving prototype vehicles owned by Google subsidiary Waymo have been recorded in Arizona since the company began testing there in 2017.
According to The New York Times, residents of Chandler, Arizona near Phoenix have thrown rocks at the Chrysler Pacifica-based test vehicles, attempted to run them off the road and even threatened employees riding inside.
In one instance, a lady screamed at one of the vans after becoming irate that it was testing in her neighbourhood, the NYT reports. The paper’s deep dive into attacks on Waymo vans also described an incident in which a man pulled up alongside one of the vehicles and threatened the operator while holding a piece of PVC pipe and another in which one of the van’s tires was slashed.
The most concerning incident in the report, however, describes a man waving a .22 caliber pistol at one of the Pacifica prototypes in an attempt to scare the operator. He later told police that he “despises” self-driving cars and referred to a 2018 incident in which a female Arizona resident was killed by an autonomous Uber test vehicle while crossing the street.
It might be tempting to write these irate residents off as irrational, and threatening people is never justified, but there’s two sides to every story. Residents describe instances of the test vehicles nearly hitting children and making other erratic maneuvers. A media theorist at the City University of New York told NYT people are “lashing out justifiably,” at the self-driving test vehicles.
Residents of areas where AVs are being tested argue that corporations shouldn’t be testing risky technology in the real world, and many would agree the practice seems negligent. As one Chandler resident put it, they don’t want to be a real-world victim because a corporation demanded it have access to real-world testing.
A Waymo spokesperson told the NYT that safety is “the core of everything,” the company does and that it has found the majority of Arizonians to be “welcoming and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safe.”
[Source: The New York Times]