#StopTechnocracyThe fact is, growing numbers of people are rebelling against technology being shoved down their throat by Technocrats who could care less what people actually want. Stories like this a buried six feet down in mainstream media because of the bad PR value. ⁃ TN Editor [/su_note]
Police have responded to dozens of calls regarding people threatening and harassing Waymo vans.
A Waymo self-driving van cruised through a Chandler neighborhood Aug. 1 when test driver Michael Palos saw something startling as he sat behind the wheel — a bearded man in shorts aiming a handgun at him as he passed the man’s driveway.
The incident is one of at least 21 interactions documented by Chandler police during the past two years where people have harassed the autonomous vehicles and their human test drivers.
People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.
Many of the people harassing the van drivers appear to hold a grudge against the company, a division of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc., which has tested self-driving technology in the Chandler area since 2016.
“(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,” said a report from Detective Cameron Jacobs, after police arrested 69-year-old Roy Leonard Haselton on Aug. 8.
The self-driving vans use radar, lidar and cameras to navigate, so they capture footage of all interactions that usually is clear enough to identify people and read license plates.
According to police reports, Waymo test drivers rarely pursue charges and arrests are rare. Haselton was charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct, and police confiscated his .22-caliber Harrington and Richardson Sportsman revolver.
“Haselton said that his wife usually keeps the gun locked up in fear that he might shoot somebody,” Jacobs wrote in the report. “Haselton stated that he despises and hates those cars (Waymo) and said how Uber had killed someone.”
Haselton’s wife told officers he was diagnosed with dementia, according to a police report.
Palos declined to discuss the incident. The Haseltons could not be reached for comment, and Roy Haselton’s trial is scheduled for February.
Waymo test drivers usually call their own company dispatcher when they are threatened or harassed, using the in-car, push-button communications system, which allows them to talk without holding a phone.
They often do this instead of calling police directly, according to the reports.
Company officials said that the drivers are trained to handle threats.
“Safety is at the core of everything we do, which means that keeping our drivers, our riders and the public safe is our top priority,” the company said in a statement.
“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. We believe a key element of local engagement has been our ongoing work with the communities in which we drive, including Arizona law enforcement and first responders.”