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Autonomous Vehicle Surrounded by Crowd in California – It Soon Goes Up in Flames

autonomous-vehicle-surrounded-by-crowd-in-california-–-it-soon-goes-up-in-flames
Autonomous Vehicle Surrounded by Crowd in California – It Soon Goes Up in Flames

Commentary

Autonomous Vehicle Surrounded by Crowd in California – It Soon Goes Up in Flames

 By Mike Landry  February 14, 2024 at 7:18am

An autonomous vehicle was vandalized and burned in San Francisco’s Chinatown Saturday night.

Video of the event was posted to the social media platform X by Gia Vang, an anchor with KNTV, the NBC station in San Francisco.

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

Little was left but charred remains, as shown by a San Francisco Fire Department social media post.

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

The big question is, why?

Destruction of the vehicle was —
a.         A re-enactment of the 19th century Luddites fearing wool machines taking their jobs.
b.         A reflection of alcohol-driven Saturday night partiers looking for something to do.
c.         A kickoff of the 2024 election year sure to be filled with “mostly peaceful” protests.
d.         One more example of how far San Francisco has fallen.
e.         All of the above.

Should the US embrace self-driving cars?

In writing the above little quiz, I’m sorry to say I really don’t know the answer.

It’s hard to know exactly why the autonomous car was destroyed. A man in the crown holding what looks like a beer can might cause one to mark B among the multiple choices.

It’s probably not D, San Francisco’s decline, since the event could have taken place in most any urban area among the Saturday night crowd.

C — regarding election year protests  — is probably not a reason. Yet.

What about A? Is it a reaction against self-driving vehicles since they could threaten the jobs of taxi drivers, truckers, and others?

In other words, are we beginning to see modern-day Luddites?

I’d lean more toward B, a tipsy crowd.

As USA Today reported, the incident took place amid raucous street celebrations of the Lunar New Year.

Google’s Waymo Autonomous car set on fire in San Francisco. ????

1. Fireworks start at Grant Ave x Jackson Street (Chinatown) for Lunar New Year
2. Waymo car got stuck immediately in front
3. Car vandalized, windows broken, fireworks put inside the car and blown up. #sf pic.twitter.com/gWbiLkmadr

— Anirudh Koul (@AnirudhKoul) February 11, 2024

Back to multiple choice A – if driver replacement becomes widespread, there could be reaction similar to what appeared Saturday in San Francisco.

The autonomous vehicle attacked over the weekend carried no passengers, according to a Waymo spokesperson, as reported by KNTV.

About 9:25 p.m. 10 or 15 people surrounded the vehicle on Jackson Street, between Stockton and Grant, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

In vandalizing the car, Waymo said, a window was broken and someone threw a firework inside of it.

The rogue firework set the vehicle ablaze, according to the fire department.

So whatever the reason, a fairly experimental vehicle was destroyed.

Yeah, it was probably because of a rowdy crowd in a new year celebration. But, for other reasons, there might be more of this coming.

Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.

Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.

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