The Enemies of the Autonomous Vehicle

Sometimes when you are on the brink of a rebellion, it’s hard to see what’s happening around you.

Chandler, Arizona, has become a hot­bed of attacks on autonomous vehicles (AVs). Over the past three years, people have assaulted self-driving cars in the city nearly two dozen times, pelting them with rocks, trying to run them off the road, challenging them to games of chicken, and slashing their tires. One man even threatened an AV with a .22-caliber revolver.

But police chief Sean Duggan says Chandler is “absolutely not” at the forefront of a rebellion between humans and machines. “These are anomalies within themselves,” he says. “Each [perpetrator] has a different story. When you drill down and get to the person who’s conducting this, there’s a variety of other supporting issues of why they acted like that. Some may have lost their job, or it was just a bad day. Every story, every incident is different. I haven’t seen any cause for concern that there is a movement, [that] there’s something afoot, where these vehicles are being targeted.”

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