Not everyone is excited to see self-driving cars on the road.
Police in Arizona have recorded 21 incidents in the past two years concerning vigilante citizens who have hurled rocks, pointed guns at and slashed the tires of Waymo’s autonomous vans.
In other cases, people stood in front of the vehicles to prevent them from driving, yelled at them, chased them or forced them off of the road, according to The Arizona Republic.
The human monitors who sit as passengers in the vehicles often don’t call police, however, as they’re trained to handle harassment.
Even when, on August 1st, a test driver in a self-driving vehicle encountered a man aiming a handgun at him, Waymo waited several days to call the police.
While there were no injuries, the man stated that he wanted to scare the Waymo driver.
‘(The suspect) stated that he was the person holding up the gun as the Waymo vehicle passed by and that his intentions were to scare the driver,’ Detective Cameron Jacobs wrote in a police report after they arrested 69-year-old suspect Roy Leonard Haselton, according to the Arizona Republic.
‘Haselton said that his wife usually keeps the gun locked up in fear that he might shoot somebody.
‘Haselton stated that he despises and hates those cars (Waymo) and said how Uber had killed someone,’ Jacobs continued in the report.
The attacks paint a picture of some Arizona residents who have become deeply disgruntled with Waymo’s continued testing of self-driving vehicles in their neighborhoods.
Self-driving technology has been lauded among the Silicon Valley community for its potential benefits in many areas, but elsewhere the story isn’t always the same.
It comes after Waymo launched its robo-taxi service in Phoenix earlier this month, dubbed ‘Waymo One.’
In many cases, the cars are able to capture the incidents on camera.
Waymo’s vans use a combination of radar, LIDAR and cameras to get around and can capture footage that’s clear enough to be able to distinguish faces and license plates, according to the Arizona Republic.
Test drivers are able to call dispatchers back at Waymo’s offices with the push of a button.
People appear to be less frustrated by the autonomous vehicles’ driving habits and more by their mere presence in the neighborhood.
HOW DOES WAYMO TEST ITS SELF-DRIVING CARS BEFORE PUTTING THEM ON PUBLIC ROADS?
Waymo built ‘Castle,’ a hidden mock city that can quickly be configured to test different scenarios.
It’s located north of the Merced metro area where the Castle Air Force Base used to be an has been rented by Google since 2014.
As part of the initial two-year lease, the firm rented 80 acres from Merced Country for $456,000, being paid in $19,000 monthly installments.
It has different driving environments including residential streets, expressway-style streets, cul-de-sacs, and parking lots.
At Castle, the roads are named after famous cars, such as DeLorean, Bullitt, Thunderbird, Fury, and Barbaro.
For the structured testing, Waymo looks at how self-driving cars perform on real roads to determine how they need to practice – then they build what’s required at Castle.
The fake city has no buildings except one – a converted military dorm Waymo employees sleep in when they’re too tired to make it back to San Francisco.
It’s hidden, and you need GPS coordinates to find it.