Vigilantes in Arizona are bullying Waymo's self-driving vehicles and safety drivers

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Self-driving vehicles are on track to revolutionize personal transportation. Companies like Waymo are actively working to fine-tune the mechanics of autonomous driving through testing on public streets, a fact that not everyone is happy about.

According to a recent report from The Arizona Republic, police in Chandler, Arizona, have documented at least 21 interactions involving harassment of autonomous vehicles and safety drivers over the past two years.

Multiple people have thrown rocks at Waymo vans as they pass by. One person slashed a van’s tire as it was stopped in traffic. Others have stood in front of Waymos to prevent their passage and attempted to run them off the road. One man even pulled a gun and pointed it at a van as it drove by his house.

Why are people so bent out of shape about self-driving vehicles?

Phil Simon, an information systems lecturer at Arizona State University, told the publication that some people are probably frustrated with what Waymo represents. “This stuff is happening fast and a lot of people are concerned that technology is going to run them out of a job,” Simon said.

Simon noted that [the backlash] is a way for people to fight back in some small, futile way. “Something tells me these are not college professors or vice presidents who are doing well,” he added.

Medical conditions and alcohol also played a role in some of the reports (the guy who pulled the gun reportedly has dementia and the person who stood in front of the Waymo was “heavily intoxicated”). Still others perceived Waymo vehicles as exhibiting suspicious behavior and I suspect that some are simply frustrated over the vehicles’ cautious driving approach (slowing down aggressive human drivers). Maybe some even hold a personal grudge against Waymo or Google?

Image credit: hvostik via Shutterstock

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S

senketsu

"Phil Simon..... told the publication that some people are probably frustrated with what Waymo represents"
I highly doubt it. Punks around here would do all the things mentioned in the article to any vehicle. We've had rocks dropped off of overpasses, slashed tires and vandalism occasionally and stolen vehicles. There's the odd shooting (vehicles involved) I've even read where a thief tried for a bicycle on the back of a vehicle rack whilst the car and its driver waited at a red light. I'm told I live in a nice city....
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
"This stuff is happening fast and a lot of people are concerned that technology is going to run them out of a job,” Simon said."

This guy is out of touch with reality. This is not the reason except for maybe taxi drivers. Drivers have nothing to worry about. That is unless government palms get greased enough. It's all about money.
 
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cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
"Why are people so bent out of shape about self-driving vehicles?"
We are not bent out of shape about self-driving vehicles. We can see there are no self-driving vehicles. And companies are continuing to beta test their software on public highways.
 

m4a4

TS Evangelist
And this is why I'd never want to live (or drive) in a heavily populated city. Too many unstable people in such a small space.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
As the unofficial spokesman for Old Folks, we are rapidly anticipating it's availability. It is the best answer yet for avoiding becoming a burden on our children, maintaining our freedom and being able to stay in our homes well beyond being able to operate an automobile. When so many retiree's simply cannot afford to stop working, this will make it possible for us to get out and about and frankly, staying in our own homes is a lot more reasonable than spending an average of $8,000 a month to be stowed away in some home where they want you to turn over all your assets just to be tranquilized 24 hours a day for that very short remainder of our lives. Bring it on! I want two!!!
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
This is vandalism and destruction of property. You can't "bully" an inanimate object.
It's still in the air whether you'd consider an AI powered car "inanimate". After all they do think and react to stimuli just like humans.

This whole thing reminds me of the game "Detroit become human", not that it's an old game. It seems at every turn humanity has greeted change and diversity with pushback.
 

ShagnWagn

TS Guru
As the unofficial spokesman for Old Folks, we are rapidly anticipating it's availability. It is the best answer yet for avoiding becoming a burden on our children, maintaining our freedom and being able to stay in our homes well beyond being able to operate an automobile. When so many retiree's simply cannot afford to stop working, this will make it possible for us to get out and about and frankly, staying in our own homes is a lot more reasonable than spending an average of $8,000 a month to be stowed away in some home where they want you to turn over all your assets just to be tranquilized 24 hours a day for that very short remainder of our lives. Bring it on! I want two!!!
So, you are wanting this more for yourself than the impact on other people's lives? Or deaths as it is being seen. A "home" is not because someone can't get out for themselves - it's because they need so much care that a family can't provide it. In these days there is home delivery, so that is a non-issue.
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
This is vandalism and destruction of property. You can't "bully" an inanimate object.
except they are not inanimate.
What dictionary are you reading from?

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inanimate
Definition of inanimate
1 : not animate
a : not endowed with life or spirit an inanimate object
b : lacking consciousness or power of motion an inanimate body​
2 : not animated or lively​
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/inanimate
inanimate
  1. not animate; lifeless.
  2. spiritless; sluggish; dull.
  3. Linguistics . belonging to a syntactic category or having a semantic feature that is characteristic of words denoting objects, concepts, and beings regarded as lacking perception and volition.
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/inanimate
inanimate
1. Not having the qualities associated with active, living organisms.
2. Not animated or energetic.
3. Grammar Belonging to the class of nouns that stand for nonliving things.​
 
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