Arizona tallies 21 assault cases against Waymo self-driving cars

December 14, 2018

Not everyone is completely in love with Waymo's self-driving cars zipping around local Arizona roads. 

The Arizona Republic reported Monday that the state has seen 21 cases in which an individual has assaulted a Waymo self-driving car over the past two years. According to the report, people have thrown rocks, slashed tires, and harassed the cars with human safety drivers inside. Another incident involved a Jeep driver running the self-driving cars off of the road. One individual reportedly pulled a handgun and aimed it at the car as it drove by.

The handgun incident involved a man diagnosed with dementia, however. The suspect said he intended to scare the driver with the handgun and said he "hates" the Waymo cars and told police how an Uber self-driving vehicle killed a pedestrian this past March.

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Waymo test drivers rarely press charges, according to the report, and they go through specific training to handle themselves in these kinds of situations.

"Safety is at the core of everything we do, which means that keeping our drivers, our riders and the public safe is our top priority," the company said in a statement.

Another incident involved an intoxicated man standing in front of a Waymo van to block its route. He said he was sick and tired of Waymo's vehicles cruising through his neighborhood; Waymo began routing cars out of that area after the incident.

READ THIS: Waymo details self-driving taxi service for Arizona

An information systems lecturer at Arizona State University told the newspaper that the aggression likely isn't due to the cars themselves, but what they represent: more automation and the fear of job losses.

Although Waymo has accommodated some of the complaints and stopped routing self-driving cars through various neighborhoods, it has no plans to slow down tests. The company will begin the industry's first ride-share service that will charge screened riders for using it. The company long promised a ride-share service open to the public by the end of 2018, but such a service hasn't come to fruition yet.

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