According to Waymo, the electric cab was traversing Chinatown at approximately 9 pm on Saturday after dropping off a passenger when it was besieged by a group of individuals who proceeded to deface the vehicle. The assailants smashed the windows and threw at least one firecracker inside, igniting a fire that consumed the car. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported from the incident.
BREAKING: An autonomous Waymo vehicle is intentionally set on fire in Chinatown, according to SF Fire. Firefighters said they got reports around 10 people were involved.
Waymo said “a crowd surrounded and vandalized the vehicle, breaking the window and throwing a firework … pic.twitter.com/6QN2jTppRu
— Gia Vang (@Gia_Vang) February 11, 2024
Michael Vandi, a software engineer who witnessed the attack while attending the Lunar New Year Fireworks display, recounted that the aggression began with an individual jumping onto the hood of the Jaguar, subsequently breaking the windshield. Vandi noted that the situation escalated as others joined in attacking the vehicle.
— Michael Vandi (@michael_vandi) February 11, 2024
Authorities, aided by clear video footage of the assault posted on social media, are reportedly pursuing leads in the investigation, as stated by a senior fire department official to the San Francisco Standard.
Despite the setback, Waymo has affirmed its commitment to continue operating its robotaxi service in San Francisco. This incident follows a recent collision involving one of Waymo's vehicles and a cyclist, resulting in minor injuries to the rider.
Waymo's resilience contrasts with the challenges faced by its competitor, Cruise, whose driverless permit was revoked by the California DMV last year following an incident involving an autonomous Chevy Bolt and a pedestrian.
Waymo Vehicle surrounded and then graffiti'd, windows were broken, and firework lit on fire inside the vehicle which ultimately caught the entire vehicle on fire. #SFFD
Photos by Séraphine Hossenlopp pic.twitter.com/aOTqL3Rk8V
— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) February 11, 2024