People Can't Stop Throwing Rocks at Waymo's Self Driving Vans


Science nerds have been threatening us with the prospect of self-driving cars for years, but now that they’re finally on the verge of becoming a reality, it’s clear some people aren’t ready. Instead of just accepting that technology isn’t going to quit until our brains are 87 percent Apple product, some Arizona residents have taken to attacking self-driving vans with rocks and knives.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, began testing its self-driving vans on the unwitting community of Chandler, Arizona in 2017. But according to the New York Times, locals are furious about…well, lots of things, with grievances ranging from safety issues to the inevitable future under AI. “They didn’t ask us if we wanted to be part of their beta test,” one woman complained.

So what are they doing about it? Why, attacking the vans, of course. From the Times:

Some people have pelted Waymo vans with rocks, according to police reports. Others have repeatedly tried to run the vehicles off the road. One woman screamed at one of the vans, telling it to get out of her suburban neighborhood. A man pulled up alongside a Waymo vehicle and threatened the employee riding inside with a piece of PVC pipe.

Attacking a piece of machinery in the futile hope of forestalling progress is stupid and needlessly destructive, but also hilarious. I wish I could throw rocks at everything I find existentially disturbing, but I know deep down the only real way to change things is to whine about them in blogs…I mean, vote.

In fairness, one woman’s 10-year-old son was nearly hit by a Waymo vehicle while playing in a cul-de-sac, and one of Uber’s self-driving cars killed a pedestrian in March. But many of the concerns seem less practical. Driverless cars will mean ceding control to machines, and jobs will be lost. People can choose to accept that change is part of life (and that frankly, humans are trash at driving anyway), or they can do what 37-year-old Charles Pinkham did:

“Pinkham was heavily intoxicated, and his demeanor varied from calm to belligerent and agitated during my contact with him,” Officer Richard Rimbach wrote in his report. “He stated he was sick and tired of the Waymo vehicles driving in his neighborhood, and apparently thought the best idea to resolve this was to stand in front of these vehicles.”

Waymo did, in fact, stopped sending vehicles to the area. But while Pinkham may have won the battle, he won’t win the war. But if he does, I am going to start throwing rocks at so many things.

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