Arizona Residents Are Attacking Self-Driving Cars and Trying to Run Them Out of Their Neighborhoods

Monday, 07 January 2019 - 1:23PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Robotics
Monday, 07 January 2019 - 1:23PM
Arizona Residents Are Attacking Self-Driving Cars and Trying to Run Them Out of Their Neighborhoods
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Rommy Ghaly CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
In the wake of the first pedestrian killed by a self-driving car, people have become understandably suspicious of AI-powered vehicles cruising around their neighborhoods. At least one person has figured out how to 'trap' a driverless car in a salt circle, but the residents of Chandler, Arizona have resorted to more tried-and-tested tactics: slashing their tires, threatening the emergency drivers, and trying to run them off the road.

According to the New York Times, Waymo vans have come under multiple attacks from drivers and pedestrians who object to the company testing in their town. One incident involved a resident threatening a Waymo vehicle with a PVC pipe, while another pointed a .22 caliber revolver at a van. In an interview with Erik and Elizabeth O'Polka, a couple that lives in Chandler, Elizabeth said that Erik would sometimes stop his car suddenly to force a self-driving car behind him to screech to a halt, and said that she has sometimes forced a Waymo van to stop and pull over. According to police reports, Erik has tried to run several Waymo vehicles off the road.

It appears that one of the chief reasons Chandler residents are so hostile toward self-driving cars is the March 2018 death of a woman in Tempe, Arizona (the same death mentioned at the beginning of this article), which was caused by a self-driving Uber vehicle. According to the O'Polkas, the danger struck home when their 10-year-old-child was almost hit by a driverless vehicle in their neighborhood. "They said they need real-world examples, but I don't want to be their real-world mistake," said Erik O'Polka.

What makes the situation even more complicated is that Waymo is choosing not to press charges against many of the people who threaten their vehicles, apparently in an attempt to keep the situation from becoming even uglier.

You can read the full article here.

Cover image: Rommy Ghaly (link unavailable) –  CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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