A Waymo self-driving car was attacked by vandals in San Francisco on Saturday night.
According to footage and eyewitness accounts of the incident, the attackers painted graffiti on the car, before smashing its windows and throwing fireworks inside. The vehicle then caught fire and caught fire before firefighters arrived to put out the flames.
There were no passengers in the Waymo vehicle when the incident occurred, and it is not thought that anyone nearby was injured in the incident.
Firefighters posted images of the remains of the Jaguar I-Pace autonomous car, adding that fireworks sparked the blaze:
The Waymo vehicle was surrounded and then painted with graffiti, windows were broken, and fireworks were lit inside the vehicle which ultimately set the entire vehicle on fire. #SFFD
Photo by Seraphine Hossenlopp pic.twitter.com/aOTqL3Rk8V
— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) February 11, 2024
It is currently unclear whether a particular incident prompted the mob to attack the car, or whether the incident was pre-planned.
Waymo told Digital Trends that it is “cooperating with local safety officials,” and added that it will continue to operate its autonomous ride-sharing service in the city.
The Alphabet-owned company has been testing its autonomous cars on the streets of San Francisco for years and recently got permission to start charging passengers as part of a trial ridesharing service.
Saturday’s incident comes a week after Waymo’s self-driving vehicle collided with a bicycle in San Francisco, causing minor injuries to cyclists.
It also comes after a more serious incident in early October when an autonomous car operated by General Motors-backed Cruise stopped on top of a pedestrian just moments after he was hit by a human-driven vehicle.
California suspended Cruise’s permit to test autonomous cars in the city, which caused the company to suspend its testing nationwide.
Reports of occasional attacks on Waymo cars date back years, with vandals slashing tires or throwing rocks at them. Road safety and job losses caused by the shift towards autonomous systems are thought to be behind some of the attacks, although it is not clear what prompted Saturday’s attack.