May 30, 2024


Image for article titled A kid set a Waymo self-driving car on fire in San Francisco, police say

Police say a teenager is responsible for setting fire to one of Waymo’s self-driving cars in San Francisco earlier this year.

In February, a Waymo self-driving car was defaced and eventually incinerated by an angry mob in San Francisco’s Chinatown. As a video of the incident clearly shows, however, the car’s destruction was hardly the work of a single individual. Instead, a wild mob can be seen spray painting the car, striking it with skateboards and other objects, and just generally abusing it. Amid the furor, one person shouted: “Light that s—t on fire!”

Well, someone eventually did. At some point, someone had the bright idea to throw a firework inside the car and watch it go up like a Roman candle.

The San Francisco Standard now reports that a SFPD Arson Task Force has identified a 14-year-old as the suspect who threw the firework and lit the car on fire. The teenager was identified as the result of a search warrant recently served at his residence, and the District Attorney’s Office has now filed charges against them. Due to their age, the person has not been publicly identified.

The car’s fiery demise occurred in February amidst heightened tensions between the city’s autonomous vehicle population and local humans. Indeed, ever since the state of California authorized the expanded rollout of commercial robotaxi services in the city last summer, a certain percentage of San Franciscans have treated the vehicles like an invading horde that must be violently repelled. In August of last year, an activist group calling themselves the Safe Street Rebels began obstructing the path of robotaxis with traffic cones out of protest. Then, in September, a man was caught smashing a Cruise taxi’s windshield with a hammer for no apparent reason.

There have also been a few episodes of car-on-human violence. Last October, one of GM Cruise’s self-driving robotaxis ran a woman over and dragged her. The incident subsequently led to the company temporarily shutting down its operations in the city and its CEO later resigned.

A version of this article originally appeared on Gizmodo.



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