Waymo Autonomous Vehicle Set Ablaze By Crowd In San Francisco

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Autonomous vehicles don’t have the best track record when it comes to earning and keeping public trust, even in tech-forward California. General Motors’ Cruise is taking a hiatus testing its vehicles after a high-profile crash and recall, and most recently, a Waymo vehicle was set on fire in San Francisco.

The Alphabet-owned company said a crowd used fireworks to set the Jaguar I-Pace on fire in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. Things started somewhat calmly with a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, but the situation escalated when a person jumped onto the vehicle and smashed its windshield. Others jumped on the car, and then dozens of people joined the melee.

At some point, someone threw fireworks inside the vehicle, causing the blaze. Thankfully, no passengers were on board, and no one was hurt, but the car was toast. Video of the incident shows plenty of flames and black smoke, and the vehicle’s roof appears completely melted off in images shared by the San Francisco Fire Department on X.

Though protesters have disrupted autonomous vehicles before, it’s not clear if this was an intentional act against the company and its vehicles or if it’s a case of a celebration getting out of hand. That said, the I-Pace has more than two dozen cameras installed, so it’s hard to imagine that the people responsible won’t be found.

[Image: SF Fire Department via X/Twitter]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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