Eyewitness Describes ‘Wild’ Experience of Mob Vandalizing and Setting Fire to Google’s Waymo Self-Driving Car in San Francisco: ‘Nobody Stood Up’ – Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) )

A mob in San Francisco vandalized and set fire to Waymo self-driving cars on Saturday. This accident marks the most serious attack on autonomous vehicles in the United States to date.

What happened: The incident occurred Saturday night in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood, Reuters reported. The crowd surrounded the moving white SUV, with one individual breaking the windshield and others joining in to vandalize the vehicle. The situation worsened when someone threw fireworks inside, causing the car to catch fire.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGLE, confirmed the incident and specified that the vehicle was not carrying passengers at that time. The San Francisco Police Department is currently investigating the cause of the fire.

Michele Vandi, a witness who shared videos of the incident, told the publication that people were celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year with fireworks. He described how one person jumped onto the hood of the Waymo vehicle, followed by another 30 seconds later, while passersby cheered.

“That’s when it got WILD,” he wrote, describing people with skateboards breaking windows and others graffitiing the car. “There were 2 groups of people. People cheering him on – and others who were just shocked and started filming. Nobody stood up, I mean, there was nothing you could do to stand up to dozens of people.

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This isn’t the first time self-driving cars have been targeted. Previous incidents in San Francisco and Phoenix, Arizona have seen groups shut down autonomous vehicle operations. The severity of this latest attack, however, may indicate growing public hostility, perhaps stemming from an incident in which a pedestrian dragged a vehicle driven by General Motors Co Cruise unit.

The previous week, a driverless Waymo vehicle collided with a cyclist in San Francisco, causing minor injuries. The state’s auto regulator is currently looking into the incident.

Because matter: The accident comes at a time when the autonomous vehicle industry is facing increased scrutiny. Waymo, in particular, has been expanding its operations, with plans to launch a full range of robotaxis in Los Angeles, despite regulatory challenges. Since October, the company has also been offering 24-hour self-driving services in San Francisco.

However, the industry has faced challenges, including criticism for its post-collision responses, as highlighted by Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. The recent accident adds to growing concerns about the safety and public acceptance of autonomous vehicles.

Meanwhile, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle division, Cruise, is also under scrutiny following a serious accident involving one of its autonomous taxis. A California judge recently urged Cruise to increase his settlement offer in the case.

Read next: Tesla firing rumors, Rivian drops entry-level prices, unusual partnership with Lucid and more: The biggest EV stories of the week

Image via Shutterstock

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