Townspeople in an Arizona city are reportedly using extreme measures to try to keep driverless vehicles off of their roads.
In the city of Chandler, Arizona, residents who say they fear for their safety have gone on the attack against driverless vehicles more than twenty times, according to a report from the New York Times.
The target of the attacks are driverless vans being tested by Google-spin off company Waymo, which set up shop in Chandler in 2017.
In the two years that Waymo has been testing driverless vehicle technology in Chandler, residents have been recorded yelling at the vans, throwing rocks at the vans, and slashing tires with knives. In one incident documented by the New York Times, the human emergency driver inside a Waymo vehicle was even threatened by an individual wielding a piece of PVC pipe.
One resident, 37 year old Erik O’Polka, has been issued a warning by Chandler police after he reportedly attempted to run numerous Waymo vans off of the road with his Jeep. O’Polka says that his 10 year old son was nearly struck by a Waymo vehicle while he was playing in a cul-de-sac.
“They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake,” O’Polka stated.
In August of 2018, 69 year old resident Roy Leonard Haselton was arrested and charged after he was caught on dash camera waving a pistol at a driverless Waymo van as it passed by his home. In a police report, detectives “stated that [Haselton] despises and hates those cars (Waymo) and said how Uber had killed someone.”
A Waymo spokesperson downplayed the attacks on the driverless vehicles:
“Safety is the core of everything we do, which means that keeping our drivers, our riders, and the public safe is our top priority. 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.”
Experts predict that attacks on driverless vehicles could become more widespread as the technology becomes more widely utilized.