Two Waymo self-driving vehicles were reportedly attacked by pedestrians in two separate incidents in Arizona and California this month.
The first incident occurred at 3 a.m. on 5 July in Tempe, Arizona, where a pedestrian described as "erratic" by Waymo spokesperson Nick Smith ran out in front of a Jaguar I-Pace EV that was operating in fully autonomous mode.
According to Waymo's press statement to The Verge, the safety driver immediately took over control of the vehicle and braked the car to a halt without hitting the person. The pedestrian then jumped on the Jaguar's bonnet and punctured the windscreen, injuring the driver.
The Waymo employee was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, although Smith said he was "not seriously harmed." As for the alleged aggressor, police apprehended him soon after the incident.
The aftermath of the incident was caught on camera by Twitter user Andrew Hill (@AHill_), with the short video revealing the EV's punctured windscreen. He wrote in the Twitter thread that accidents involving pedestrians happen a few times a year in that location and that he tends to believe the car hit the pedestrian first and not the other way around. We can't know for sure what exactly happened until police release a report.
The second incident, which happened in San Francisco at 10 p.m. on 9 July, is way clearer—and more disturbing. It involved a mob of skateboarders and another fully autonomous Jaguar I-Pace EV from the Waymo fleet. According to a statement from the company to Drive Tesla Canada, the attack happened in the Mission District.
"At approximately 10 pm on July 9, one of our cars operating in manual mode in San Francisco was surrounded by individuals who jumped onto the hood, roof and the trunk of the car and vandalized the vehicle with spray paint. The autonomous specialist was eventually able to direct the car safely out of the crowd and remove themselves from the situation. We are in close communication with the San Francisco Police Department as they actively investigate this incident."
Footage of the incident appeared on the Instagram account clrblnd.z and appears to be consistent with Waymo's description of how things unfolded. As for the motivation behind the vandalism attack, we must mention that the self-driving Jaguar drove down the street shortly after the annual Dolores Hill Bomb, a popular event for skateboarders.
Each year in July, hundreds of skateboarders gather on San Francisco's Dolores Street across from Dolores park to go down a steep hill in what is called a hill bombing event. After the impromptu session ends, participants tend to stick around and party on the street.
The Jaguar likely wasn't targeted because it's autonomous or for any other reason other than it happened to drive in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 2020, an SUV that drove down Dolores street was also attacked by Hill Bombers.