Self-driving cars are going to be part of the future, but there are some people that are not very happy about it. Erik O’Polka of Chandler, Arizona is one of those people. He really hates them. Chandler is ground zero for the tests on driverless cars where the company Waymo – part of Alphabet, Inc – has been testing its vehicles for a couple of years.
According to the New York Times, O’Polka, 37, was warned by police last November “after multiple reports that his Jeep Wrangler had tried to run Waymo vans off the road.” Numerous times in the last year, O’Polka was documented trying to crash a driverless van. In one incident, he drove head-on with one, forcing a hard stop.
It’s not just O’Polka, it’s his wife too.
In the Times article, O’Polka’s wife, Elizabeth, is interviewed and admits that she “‘may have forced them to pull over’ so she could yell at them to get out of their neighborhood.” She also told the Times that her husband “‘finds it entertaining to brake hard’ in front of the self-driving vans.” She says it all stems from an incident where their young son was almost hit by one of the vans in their neighborhood, but it seems to go much deeper. O’Polka said in the Times: “They said they need real-world examples, but I don’t want to be their real-world mistake…They didn’t ask us if we wanted to be part of their beta test.”
The O’Polkas are hardly alone in their attacks on Waymo cars and vans. One person even pointed a gun at one of the backup, human drivers that sit in the driver seat during the tests of their vans.
In August, 69-year-old Roy Leonard Haselton was arrested by Chandler police for waving his gun at a Waymo van. He has been charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
And there are other reports of people throwing rocks at vehicles and slashing vans tires while they are stopped.
Will humans and autonomous vehicles get along or are these signs of a new kind of road rage being created? As more and more self-driving vehicles hit the roads over the next few years, the only answer right now is that we don’t know, but we’re sure to find out.