People Are Attacking Self-Driving Cars In Arizona With Knives And Rocks

'I don’t want to be their real-world mistake,' critics say.

Waymo self driving car performing tests on a street near Google's headquarters, Silicon Valley.
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

'I don’t want to be their real-world mistake,' critics say.

There’s a lot of hype around the revolution of self-driving cars, but some people aren’t feeling the love – and they’re taking their grievances out with knives, rocks, and even other vehicles. In Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix where Alphabet is testing out their Waymo self-driving cars, over two dozen vehicles have been attacked, according to the New York Times.

Over the past two years, vehicles have been run off the road or had their tires slashed. Others have been pelted by rocks. One man threatened an employee riding in a Waymo car with a PVC pipe — while another waved a.22 caliber rifle at a passenger — all in an attempt to let Google know that not everyone is pleased about having the driverless cars in their part of town.

One resident, 37-year-old Erik O’Polka, was issued a warning by police for attempting to run Waymo vans off the road. He allegedly used his Jeep Wrangler to try to push the cars out of traffic, driving towards one head-on until the vehicle had to stop quickly.

“There are other places they can test,” said O’Polka. “They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake.”

He and his wife say that they don’t want the cars in their neighborhood after their 10-year-old son was nearly hit while playing in the street of their residential neighborhood. O’Polka’s wife added that they were never asked if they wanted to be a part of the company’s test.

Douglas Rushkoff, author of the book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus says that he believes people are justified in their anger.

“There’s a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart,” he said. “Just think about the humans inside these vehicles, who are essentially training the artificial intelligence that will replace them.”

Waymo, for its part, hasn’t prosecuted any of the people who have attacked their vehicles. The company has reportedly refused to provide video of the incidences for fear that pursuing assailants would threaten the testing program. The company also states that the attacked vans are just a small part of its large fleet of vehicles in Chandler.

“Safety is the core of everything we do,” said a spokesperson. “Over the past two years, we’ve found Arizonans to be welcoming and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safer.”

The spokesperson also said that the company has cooperated with law enforcement when they determine that assailants could pose a danger, adding that they have provided video and photo to officers when asked.