San Francisco man accused of slashing tires of robotaxis — allegedly on camera

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SAN FRANCISCO — Prosecutors opportunity they person charged a man pinch 17 counts of vandalism for slashing nan tires of Waymo robotaxis, nan futuristic driverless cars that person become a taste flashpoint successful San Francisco.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said successful a connection Thursday that Ronaile Joshua Burton, 36, had been charged successful 17 different instances of vandalism complete 3 days, from June 24 to June 26. Each lawsuit was captured connected cameras installed successful nan Waymo vehicles, her agency said.

Waymo said successful a connection that immoderate riders were coming during nan incidents. None of nan riders were injured, nan institution said.

“We tin corroborate that charges person been brought against nan individual who aggressively vandalized a number of Waymo vehicles, immoderate pinch riders present. Waymo is besides taking steps to retrieve nan damages sustained, and mitigate nan imaginable for early events,” nan institution said.

“Waymo exists to make our roads safer, and pinch that successful mind we will ever prioritize nan information of our riders and community,” it added.

Waymo was spun retired of Google successful 2016, and its vehicles are covered successful cameras and different sensors.

The Waymo work operates for illustration Uber aliases Lyft but pinch nary quality drivers. People telephone for a thrust utilizing an app wherever they put successful their destination. The work is besides disposable successful nan Phoenix and Los Angeles areas, pinch plans to grow this twelvemonth successful Austin, Texas. A competitor, GM’s Cruise, is in nan process of relaunching aft a collision pinch a pedestrian past twelvemonth and nan revocation of its California permits.

The territory attorney’s agency said that Burton remained successful jailhouse Thursday pinch nary bail group “because of nan nationalist information consequence he poses.” A judge approved prosecutors’ mobility to detain him, pinch a tribunal day group for Friday, nan agency said.

It was not instantly clear if Burton had an attorney. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office did not instantly respond to a petition for comment.

Prosecutors listed his residence arsenic Castro Valley, a metropolis 25 miles eastbound of San Francisco, though successful videos posted to X, personification who appeared to beryllium Burton said he was bum and surviving successful San Francisco.

The lawsuit suggests that conflict complete nan driverless taxis whitethorn beryllium ratcheting up arsenic Waymo expands its service. Last year, immoderate opponents of robotaxis discovered they could disable nan vehicles by placing a postulation cone connected nan hood — starring to images of nan cone-topped cars going viral connected societal media.

And successful February, a crowd successful San Francisco’s Chinatown group a Waymo ablaze pinch fireworks, leading to criminal charges against a 14-year-old boy.

Last month, Waymo got free of its waitlist successful San Francisco, allowing anyone successful nan metropolis to telephone a driverless thrust utilizing nan company’s app.

David Ingram

I americium a journalist covering exertion for NBC News. I constitute astir a wide array of subjects, including Elon Musk’s expansive business empire, nan latest successful anti-drone defense systems and nan intersection of tech and nationalist governmental campaigns. Based successful our San Francisco bureau, I besides sometimes constitute astir what’s happening successful America’s tech hub and astir absorbing city.

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