Sunday, March 3, 2024

Grand Theft Robot

Also in L.A. on Saturday night.

An unhoused man was taken into custody on suspicion of grand theft auto after police said he tried to steal a Waymo self-driving car in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The man entered and tried to operate a Waymo vehicle that had stopped to let out a passenger at the corner of 1st and Main at 10:30 p.m., LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar said. After the man, whom a Waymo spokesman described as an “unauthorized pedestrian,” entered the vehicle, the company’s Rider Support team instructed him to exit the car.

When he did not, the company contacted the police, “who were then able to remove and arrest” the man, said Chris Bonelli, a Waymo spokesman. Vincent Maurice Jones, 34, was arrested at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, Aguilar said.

No injuries were reported by the rider, and there was no damage to the vehicle, Bonelli said.

The car was stationary during the entire incident because an unauthorized person was identified by the company to be in the vehicle, according to Waymo.

Waymo is allowed to operate fully autonomous vehicles and carry passengers as part of its testing and promotions program and has been testing vehicles in L.A. for more than a year.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and focuses on self-driving technology, has faced criticism as it expands operations throughout the state, including in parts of San Francisco and now L.A.

Last month, a crowd vandalized and burned an empty Waymo car in San Francisco’s Chinatown, though the motive for that incident is still unclear.

On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission OK’d the company’s plans to expand into San Mateo and L.A. counties over local leaders’ objections. L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn called the commission’s approval “a dangerous decision,” and called for more local involvement in the approval process.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, too, had previously asked regulators to give local officials more say in regulation, noting that a Waymo vehicle operating in L.A. last year initially failed to stop for a traffic officer at Beaudry Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.

There must be a device that'll mess w/ the on-board systems & let someone help themselves. If there isn't, get to work, people!

[L.A. Times]

No comments: