Driverless car trashed on San Francisco street

February 13, 2024
Driverless car trashed on San Francisco street
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The question of self drive cars has always been a controversial one, with lots of driver resistance to the concept. However, at the weekend resistance became open hostility as a mob vandalised and set fire to a self driving car from Waymo in San Francisco.  


Waymo has evolved from the Google self drive car project and offers limited autonomous ride-hailing services in several US cities.  

At the weekend one of its Jaguar I-PACE vehicles was operating driverless and without passengers in the Californian city’s Chinatown district, when a crowd surrounded the vehicle. Some of the group then jumped on the bonnet and smashed the windscreen. The car was graffitied and eventually a firework was thrown into the vehicle setting it on fire. It was soon engulfed in flames, with the incident filmed by many onlookers and posted on social media.  

Although incidents of this severity are rare, it not the first time an autonomous vehicle has been attacked, with several incidents reported, especially after publicity about driverless vehicle accidents. 

This type of attack does raise concerns, not least about public acceptance of driverless vehicles, and the battle the pioneers of such a concept may face in terms of misinformation about their safety and ultimate aims.

It also raises concerns about passenger safety in vehicles with no driver. For example, experienced urban taxi drivers will know signs of potential danger and areas to avoid at certain times. They will also be able to take avoiding action to minimise the potential for attacks. No matter how sophisticated the operating systems of these autonomous vehicles become, it will be impossible to teach them these types of instinct. 
 
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