Crowd sets Waymo driverless car on fire in San Francisco's Chinatown

Waymo's self-driving robo-taxi caught fire in San Francisco on Saturday.
Michael Vandy/Reuters

  • A Waymo robo-taxi was set on fire Saturday by a mob in San Francisco.
  • The motive is unclear, but mistrust of driverless technology in the city is high.
  • There have been several accidents since the city got the green light to expand robo-taxi services.

Amid mistrust of driverless technology in downtown San Francisco, a crowd torched a Waymo robo-taxi Saturday night, the local fire department said.

The vehicle was “surrounded and then graffitied, windows were broken, and fireworks were set off inside the vehicle,” a post on X by the San Francisco Fire Department said. It was reduced to a gray shell.

Film show Shared by visitorMichael Vandy shows a crowd surrounding a vehicle during Lunar New Year celebrations in San Francisco's Chinatown.

A member of the crowd shouted, “Light that shit on fire!”

Videos from local news agencies, Shared on XShow the firefighters putting the remains of the vehicle into the water.

There were no occupants in the vehicle and no one was injured. The Los Angeles Times reportedCiting police.

An investigation into the fire is underway, the outlet said.

Waymo spokeswoman Sandy Karp confirmed the facts of the incident and said the BI company is “working with local safety authorities to respond to the situation.”

The motive for the attack on the robo-car is unclear, but autonomous-car companies have come under increased scrutiny since the technology hit the streets of San Francisco.

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Waymo began testing driverless taxis in San Francisco in 2022 under various restrictions.

But it has teething problems – A wire probe In April, Waymo collected substantial dashcam footage showing vehicles encroaching on roads and blocking public transit vehicles.

In May, police were stymied by a Waymo taxi that drove to the scene of a fire and nearly ran over a fire hydrant.

Nevertheless, driverless taxi companies were given the green light to launch expanded services in the city in August.

The move immediately unleashed chaos on the roads.

Cruise, owned by General Motors, quickly cut its fleet in half after several accidents and traffic jams, and by October — after a woman was pinned under one of its cars — the city revoked its permits.

Alphabet-owned Waymo has said its autonomous vehicles are “significantly” safer than human-driven vehicles. 2023 study based on data shared with insurer Swiss Re.

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