Miami Herald

San Francisco crowd torches self-driving car


First, a man rams a skateboard into the passenger window of a white vehicle. He exits the frame, then returns and slams his drink container into the windshield. Bystanders can be seen cheering the people vandalizin­g the car, as others record on their phones. Soon the car is engulfed in flames.

Scenes of chaos from San Francisco’s Chinatown spread across social media Sunday after a mob set fire to a Waymo self-driving car using a firework on Saturday, which was the Chinese Lunar New Year. Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet, has been offering California­ns a 24/7 taxi service in driverless cars since last summer.

“Waymo Vehicle surrounded and then graffiti’d,” the San Francisco Fire Department said on social media. “Windows were broken, and firework lit on fire inside the vehicle which ultimately caught the entire vehicle on fire.”

“The vehicle was not transporti­ng any riders and no injuries have been reported,” Waymo said.

There are long-standing tensions between the city’s residents and the driverless cars.

A Waymo vehicle struck a cyclist last week in the Potrero Hill neighborho­od, resulting in minor injuries, the Verge reported.

Driverless cars have caused major concerns in San Francisco by disrupting first responders, including driving into scenes cordoned off by caution tape and striking a firetruck responding to an emergency, The Washington Post previously reported.

Last year, a robotaxi operated by Cruise — a Waymo rival — rolled over a pedestrian and dragged her about 20 feet, after which the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended its operations.

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