Angry Mob Torches Robot Taxi In San Francisco

Estimated read time 3 min read

As we’ve highlighted many times before, tensions about autonomous taxis from Waymo, Cruise, and others in San Francisco have become quite the contentious issue. To show things haven’t calmed down but instead are escalating, an angry mob surrounded a Waymo taxi in the city recently, vandalizing and then burning it to the ground.

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While those who took part in this act of property destruction represent the more extreme among the anti-robot taxi leaning constituents of San Francisco, there are many others who don’t have warm feelings towards the technology. After all, autonomous cars have caused traffic jams, hit pedestrians, killed a dog, driven into active emergency scenes, and caused many other problems.

Video of the incident, which unfolded in Chinatown, show a group of what appears to be mostly younger people standing around the robotaxi as a party-like atmosphere hangs in the air. There are others sitting on the hoods and roofs of parked cars, but then people start bashing the Waymo vehicle with skateboards and other objects.

They also tag the car using spray paint. Then someone decides to throw fireworks through one of the broken windows, which ignite and catch the autonomous vehicle on fire. The revelry continues as the taxi becomes an inferno.

Obviously, Chinatown was bustling with the Year of the Dragon celebrations in full swing, so having big crowds in the area likely was a contributing factor to this incident. But the boiling tensions about self-driving taxi services in San Francisco are a much larger part of the equation.

As driverless cars running in the city keep causing issues with traffic, pedestrian/cyclist safety, etc. we expect these sorts of incidents will only continue escalating. What the ultimate end of this situation will be is anyone’s guess at this point.

Images via San Francisco Fire Department

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Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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