More and more cities are relying on autonomous cabs to transport people. One famous example is the provider Waymo, which regularly drives people from A to B in San Francisco. And all without a human driver. But not everyone is happy with this futuristic technology. This could now be clearly seen in the Californian coastal metropolis. Here, one of the robot cabs was completely destroyed by an angry crowd.
Unbridled hatred against Waymo’s robot cab
Waymo is a tech company that has been working meticulously for some time to perfect autonomous driving. And the best way to pursue this goal? By deploying a fleet of cabs that quickly puts theory into practice. This successful model can be seen in San Francisco, where Waymo operates its self-driving electric cars. However, the cars sometimes drive empty through the streets between trips. A group of people apparently took this as an opportunity to not only damage one of the expensive vehicles, but to destroy it completely. What began with simple graffiti on the Jaguar I-Pace vehicle quickly escalated into far more significant damage. In the end, the vehicle went up in flames after the angry mob set it alight with fireworks.
All that remained was the skeleton of the former luxury electric car. The remarkably few remains are not only due to the fire. On top of that, the people probably also removed a large part of the vehicle and took it with them. Waymo is certainly shocked by the incident. However, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the provider has not yet issued a real statement. It is probably still working on a suitable response to the incident. Nevertheless, one has to speak of luck in misfortune. Although the destructive fury broke out on a very busy street, there were no injuries. In view of the high fire risk that electric cars are known to pose, this is not a matter of course.
A challenge for the fire department
The responsible authorities seem to be able to reconstruct the risky incident piece by piece. It all probably took place in a busy street in Chinatown. Many people were celebrating the Chinese New Year in Jackson Street and naturally let off fireworks. While “normal” cars with human drivers were let through by the crowd, the Waymo vehicle was apparently stopped. After one person got into the electric car and ended up destroying the windshield, the rest of the people were apparently encouraged to join in. At least that’s how one eyewitness described it in a report in “The Autopian” magazine. A short documentary of the orgy of destruction can be viewed on X.
Here you can see in several videos by eyewitness Michael Vandi how people’s anger was unleashed. It is not only the gradual destruction itself that is disturbing. The euphoric applause of the other people who witnessed the terrifying spectacle is also frightening. Spurred on by the spectators, several people then apparently decided to set off fireworks on and in the car. In the end, it was completely engulfed in flames. And this is where the real problem began for the San Francisco fire department. An eyewitness reported that the burning battery of the electric car simply would not stop flickering with flames. The extinguishing process took a correspondingly long time. As a result, not much was left of the vehicle.
The anger against Waymo on the part of the people of San Francisco is nothing new. After all, this and other providers of autonomous cab rides regularly make negative headlines with serious traffic accidents. For example, a Waymo car recently hit a cyclist and caused him minor injuries. Last weekend, however, the anger took on an unprecedented quality. Until now, the people of San Francisco have tended to play small pranks on the vehicles. The so-called “coning”, for example, is extremely popular. This involves passers-by placing a cone on the front of the car. The vehicle’s sensors then prevent it from continuing its journey, which not only disrupts other traffic but also prevents the autonomous cab from operating normally. Only when the cone has been removed can the vehicle continue.