And their anger is vented using guns, rocks, and alcohol.
Not everyone is wild about self-driving cars, but this report coming from the Arizona Republic indicates some people really, really don’t like them. Last August, a Waymo self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan was driving through a Chandler, Arizona neighborhood when its test driver noticed something quite disturbing. A bearded, shirtless man was aiming a gun at him as he passed the man’s driveway. Nothing else happened but the moment was alarming, to say the least. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a one-time incident.
There have been at least 21 other similar interactions documented by the local police department over the past two years where local residents harassed autonomous vehicles and the human test drivers inside. Rocks have been thrown at the Waymo vans, a tire was slashed when the vehicle was stopped at a traffic light, while other vans have been chased and yelled at.
One Jeep driver was solely responsible for forcing the vans off the road six times. So what the hell is going on and why are these local residents so angry at self-driving vans? Turns out many of these people hold grudges against Alphabet, Inc., parent company of both Waymo and Google.
"(The suspect) stated that he was the person holding up the gun as the Waymo vehicle passed by and that his intentions were to scare the driver,” said a report from Detective Cameron Jacobs, after police arrested 69-year-old Roy Leonard Haselton.
Police were easily able to identify Haselton because the self-driving vans utilize radar, lidar and cameras for navigation purposes. They also capture footage showing all interactions, like a guy standing on his driveway pointing a gun at you. This particular situation was kind of rare, but police did charge Haselton with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. They also confiscated his .22 caliber revolver.
"Haselton said that his wife usually keeps the gun locked up in fear that he might shoot somebody,” Jacobs wrote in the report. "Haselton stated that he despises and hates those cars (Waymo) and said how Uber had killed someone.” His wife told police Haselton has been diagnosed with dementia, but he still remembers where the gun is kept in his home. His trial is scheduled for February.
Waymo has been instructed by police to contact them immediately when incidents like this happen. For example, Waymo didn’t notify police until four days after a guy threw rocks at two of its vans. Another resident was found standing in front of a van, now allowing it to pass. Turns out he was drunk.
Other residents have even called the police on Waymo. One woman claimed a Waymo driver was watching children play for 90 minutes while parked. The driver was really conducting diagnostics on the vehicle. Another woman called the cops because she thought a drug deal was going down between a Waymo passenger and another resident. Waymo drivers are also reported cases of their vans being followed for no specific reason. One local resident summed up the community’s general attitude perfectly: "Everybody hates Waymo drivers. They are dangerous.”