Thief Tries To Steal Self-Driving Taxi, Gets Caught Immediately

In a recent incident in downtown Los Angeles, Vincent Maurice Jones, 34, attempted to steal a Waymo self-driving car shortly after it had dropped off a passenger. Jones failed to manipulate the vehicle’s controls to put it in drive mode. Upon being noticed by a Waymo representative via the car’s online communication system, Jones refused to exit, leading to his immediate arrest by the LAPD.

“Jones attempted to put the vehicle in ‘Drive’ but could not manipulate the controls,” the LAPD said.

This event underscores the ongoing challenges faced by autonomous vehicles, which have been targets of vandalism and theft. Just last month, a Waymo robotaxi in San Francisco’s Chinatown was vandalized and set on fire.

Despite such incidents, Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, was recently granted permission to expand its autonomous vehicle services into Los Angeles County, sparking protests from local leaders like LA County supervisor Janice Hahn, who expressed concerns over the untested nature of robotaxis and advocated for city-led decision-making in such matters.

“These robotaxis are far too untested and Angelenos shouldn’t be Big Tech’s guinea pigs,” said LA County supervisor Janice Hahn in a statement. “Decisions like this one should be informed by cities, not made over city objections.”

Waymo’s expansion into Los Angeles comes amid ongoing competition with General Motors’ Cruise, which has faced setbacks in rolling out its own robotaxi services, particularly following an incident in which a woman was trapped under one of its vehicles.

Criticism and legal challenges against autonomous vehicle deployment persist, with San Francisco filing a lawsuit against the state commission’s decision to allow both Waymo and Cruise to operate expanded driverless taxi services in the city.

The attempted theft of the Waymo vehicle by Jones highlights the broader debate surrounding the integration of autonomous vehicles into urban environments. Despite such incidents, proponents continue to advocate for their deployment, while critics argue for greater caution and local oversight in the adoption of this technology.

Jones’s unsuccessful attempt may serve as a reminder of the complexities and challenges inherent in the ongoing development and deployment of autonomous vehicle technology.

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