SAN FRANCISCO, California – A Waymo robo-taxi was destroyed by fire on Saturday, highlighting the ongoing mistrust of driverless technology in the city. The motive behind the attack is unclear, but it comes amidst increased scrutiny of autonomous-car companies since the technology gained popularity in San Francisco’s streets.
The incident took place during Lunar New Year celebrations in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where a crowd surrounded the vehicle and set it ablaze. Footage shared by onlookers shows the vehicle engulfed in flames as firefighters attempt to extinguish the fire.
Although there were no people inside the vehicle and no injuries reported, the incident has raised concerns about the safety and public acceptance of driverless technology in San Francisco. Waymo, the autonomous-car company, has confirmed the incident and stated that they are working closely with local safety officials to address the situation.
This attack on the robo-car is just one of several incidents that have occurred since the city approved the expansion of driverless taxi services. Waymo began testing fully automated cars in 2022, but the company has faced challenges and public backlash over the implementation of the technology.
The move to launch expanded driverless taxi services in the city has been met with chaos on the roads, with reports of accidents, traffic jams, and safety concerns. This has led to heightened scrutiny and criticism of autonomous-car companies operating in San Francisco. However, Waymo has maintained that their autonomous vehicles are significantly safer than those driven by humans, pointing to a 2023 study based on data it shared with an insurance company.