This weekend marked Chinese New Year celebrations—usually a time of revelry and many fireworks. But one Waymo car that tried to navigate down a busy street in San Francisco’s Chinatown was met with an unruly mob that smashed the car’s windows and burned it to the ground over the weekend.
Videos of the incident are all over social media. X user Anirudh Koul got good footage of what started the fire. In one video, a crowd of people surround the car, preventing it from moving. The vehicle is already covered in graffiti and has several smashed windows. One person then throws a lit firework into the cabin; the firework explodes and a fire starts inside the car. The Waymo car then burns to a crisp while it helplessly flashes its hazard lights.
Google’s Waymo Autonomous car set on fire in San Francisco. 🥺
1. Fireworks start at Grant Ave x Jackson Street (Chinatown) for Lunar New Year
2. Waymo car got stuck immediately in front
3. Car vandalized, windows broken, fireworks put inside the car and blown up. #sf pic.twitter.com/gWbiLkmadr
— Anirudh Koul (@AnirudhKoul) February 10, 2024
The fire department eventually responded to the raging fire, but almost nothing was left of the vehicle by the time the blaze was put out. Thankfully, the fire didn’t spread. An NBC Bay Area report got a comment from Waymo, which said the car was not transporting any passengers, and no injuries were reported.
Most people attacking the car had their faces uncovered, and phone cameras were all around. The Waymo car is also covered in cameras, so Waymo probably has up-close, first-person recordings of who did what. It’s mostly just a question of if the company wants to press charges. The San Francisco Police Department said it is investigating the fire.