Police arrested a Arizona man on Wednesday for allegedly causing an autonomous car to ram his own vehicle.
But what might sound like another day in the Tempe desert paradise became stranger when it turned out that the suspect has a driver’s story associated with the manufacturer of the high-tech car in question, Google’s Waymo.
According to the Tempe police, 31-year-old Raymond Tang admitted to the Tempe police that he was “braking” a Waymo car – or applying the brakes at unexpected times, hoping to be behind. He was reportedly successful, and around 10:30 p.m. a self-driving vehicle slammed into his Mazda sedan. January 30, as a local ABC partner previously reported. According to the Tempe police, autonomous driving of the Waymo vehicle was not activated at the time of the accident and the driver was the only one in the vehicle.
“His first statement was that a pedestrian ran into the street, but when viewing the videos it is clear that this is not the case,” Greg Bacon, a spokesman for the Tempe police department, told The Daily Beast. “He admitted to braking the car in his interview with the detective, and we treat it as a deliberate act.”
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The footage viewed by The Daily Beast showed a car that was approaching several Waymo vehicles and braking in front of them on open roads that were not near traffic lights, including the hard brakes that caused the eventual wreckage.
According to a database from the Maricopa County sheriff, Tang was in Tempe City Prison, awaiting trial on February 20 for grievous bodily harm with a lethal weapon, criminal crime, danger, and ruthless driving. It was not clear whether Tang had a lawyer, and he could not be reached for comment on the story.
As a former driver of Waymo contractor Genesis 10, who appears to belong to him on LinkedIn, Tang saw his contract with the autonomous automaker expire a year before the accident after safety standards were not met, Waymo said in a statement. The company said it was cooperating with the investigation, and parent company Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to Waymo, Tang had carried out similar activities that led to charges of crime against him in November 2019. Bacon said, however, that this type of harassment of autonomous vehicles “is the first time that anything like this has been reported in Tempe”. The nearby Chandler Police Department investigated other vehicle incidents that Tang could be involved in, the Tempe police said.
If the charges go on, Tang wouldn’t be the first person to have public beef with an alleged car of the future. Tesla issued an injunction against a well-known critic and short seller after allegedly chasing three of the company’s employees and ruthlessly driving near a Tesla Model 3 while testing its autopilot function on a freeway in the Bay Area.
As one of the few cities where self-driving cars can drive, Tempe has also been the scene of controversy about vehicles that have nothing to do with possibly disgruntled former contractors. In March 2018, an Uber autonomous car hit a woman at 40 mph and killed her while the human “safety” driver of the next generation vehicle watched The voice,
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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