Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Phoenix, AZ, United States (4E) – It seems Luddites have found a home in Arizona, and are manifesting their hatred of technology by sabotaging Google’s self-driving cars.
The autonomous vehicles are operated by Waymo LLC, the subsidiary of Alphabet Inc responsible for self-driving technology development. On Dec. 5, 2018, Waymo launched its first commercial self-driving car service called “Waymo One” in Phoenix. Waymo One allowed users in the Phoenix metropolitan area to use an app to request the use of a self-driving car.
Media reports reveal at least 21 attacks since 2017 on Google self-driving cars in Arizona. These attacks range in severity from pure mischief to more serious acts such as trying to force an autonomous car off course.
The most brazen incident took place in August when a man armed with a handgun tried to scare the safety driver of an autonomous Chrysler Pacifica. This man claimed he was taking vengeance for the Uber incident that killed a pedestrian in Phoenix earlier this year.
Another safety driver was threatened by a man wielding a PVC pipe. Other incidents involved people throwing rocks, blocking routes or slashing the tires of Waymo vehicles. There was also an also attempt to derail a self-driving car driving itself. One particularly troubling incident saw a man trying to run a Chrysler Pacifica off the road six times.
Waymo hasn’t pressed charges in any of these incidents, however. Instead, it’s directed its drivers to first contact an internal dispatch system when these incidents occur.
Oddly, Waymo has been unwilling to provide footage of the attacks on its robot cars. This refusal defeats the benefit of self-driving vehicles always maintaining video of everything happening around the car.
Waymo claim these Luddite incidents only represent a small fraction of its self-driving cars.
“Over the past two years, we’ve found Arizonans to be welcoming and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safer,” said Waymo.
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