Man Brake-Checks Waymo Self-Driving Van, Gets Arrested
Building a self-driving-vehicle fleet requires hiring or contracting a lot of people, and apparently it’s possible to end up with someone who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of any car. Wayno realized this when former operator Raymond Tang was arrested on suspicion of intentionally causing a crash with a Waymo test vehicle in the Phoenix area on January 30.
The Arizona Central reports that Tang was caught on video intentionally swerving in and out of a lane occupied by a Waymo test van, and then eventually slammed on his brakes in front of it, causing a collision. At the time, he was allegedly harassing two of the self-driving-capable vans. The Waymo vehicle that was eventually involved in the collision was being driven by a human, not by the company’s autonomous system. The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries and asthma-related health issues.
The second Waymo driver told police that Tang’s driving had caused them to swerve out of their lane and brake multiple times to avoid crashing into Tang.
During an interview with police, Tang admitted to “brake-checking the Waymo,” in other words pulling in front of the vehicle and then slamming on his brakes.
Waymo has a self-driving ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area. It uses these rides to test its autonomous technology in specially outfitted Chrysler Pacificas.
Tang, a former Waymo operator, was fired by a contractor, Genesis10, which filled positions in Waymo’s Arizona fleet. Waymo said that Tang was a “disgruntled former Genesis10 vehicle operator whose assignment with Waymo ended nearly a year ago when he failed to meet the high safety standards.”
Since that time, according to Waymo, he has hassled other Waymo vehicles with his reckless driving, beginning in November 2019.
Tang isn’t the first person in the Phoenix area to be openly hostile to the self-driving fleet. In 2018, a man stood in his driveway and waved a gun at one the vehicles to frighten the driver. Others have thrown rocks at the vans and, like Tang, attempted to run the vehicles off the road. It’s not clear if its the technology or the testing on public roads that brings out this type of behavior. What is clear in this new world of cars without drivers, out testing on public roads, is that road rage is no longer just a human-versus-human scenario.