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Self-driving Waymo vehicles targeted by attackers, New York Times reports

Photos: Waymo driverless taxis to be on road
Posted at 10:50 AM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-01 20:49:27-05

Self-driving cars — it seems like you’re either for them or against them, and some opponents are actually targeting the vehicles, according to reports.

The New York Times published a story Monday about a series of reported attacks -- 21 to be exact -- on the Valley’s autonomous vehicles. Chandler police confirmed the information to ABC15 on Tuesday.

They report that some vehicles have had their tires slashed, some backup drivers sitting in the vehicles have had weapons pointed their way, other drivers have been trying to run them off the road and more.

RELATED: Waymo's self-driving ride service debuts in the Valley in December 2018

The New York Times said one man was warned by police after he repeatedly tried to run Waymo vehicles off the road “In one case, driving head-on toward one of the self-driving vehicles until it was forced to come to an abrupt stop,” the New York Times says the man is accused of doing.

The New York Times says Waymo provided a statement, saying the attacks involving a “small fraction” of the daily tests.

Waymo has reportedly not sought to press charges during any of the incidents.

“We report incidents we deem to pose a danger and we have provided photos and videos to local law enforcement when reporting these acts of vandalism or assault. We support our drivers and engage in cases where an act of vandalism or assault has been perpetrated against us," Waymo said in a statement to ABC15. "Our highly trained drivers are asked to use their discretion when handling situations that they deem to be dangerous to themselves, to Waymo’s passengers, or to Waymo’s vehicles. Waymo’s policy advises drivers to contact the police in any situation where they feel unsafe."

Safety concerns continue to be a big driver for some Valley resident’s opposition to the self-driving vehicles, especially after a deadly crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe last year.

Still, Waymo stands by their focus on safety for everyone in the community.

“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," a Waymo spokesperson said. "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.”