A self-driving Waymo car was vandalized and set on fire in San Francisco’s Chinatown, captured in scenes of chaos widely spread over social media. Bystanders were seen cheering on the people vandalizing the car as it soon became engulfed in flames. Footage from the incident showed the vehicle surrounded and then graffiti’d, windows were broken, and a firework was lit inside the vehicle, ultimately catching the entire car on fire, which was seen as extremely dangerous and terrible due to the sheer volume of Chinese Lunar New Year tourists around.
Police are currently investigating the incident and no arrests have been made as of yet. The atmosphere outside a local shop appeared charged as the vehicle was set on fire, with the crowd eventually backing away from the flames. Witnesses reported that people were celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday evening by setting off fireworks, while footage captured bystanders clapping as others jumped onto the hood of the vehicle. The presence of groups of people either encouraging the vandalism or standing in shock and simply filming left bystanders feeling powerless to intervene.
The incident adds to existing tensions between city residents and driverless cars in San Francisco, where driverless cars have disrupted emergency responders and been involved in accidents resulting in injuries. The destruction of the Waymo vehicle in Chinatown is an unprecedented event, adding to the city’s concerns about the interaction between driverless cars and the public.