Former Waymo Contractor Charged with Targeting Self-Driving Vans with Brake Checks

The disgruntled contractor had been relieved of his position after failing to meet safety standards.

byRob Stumpf|
Self-Driving Tech photo

A former Waymo contractor was arrested in Arizona after police say he purposefully caused a Waymo-owned vehicle to rear-end him on a public roadway.

According to local news, on Jan. 30 Raymond Tang was spotted harassing two Waymo vans on a wide stretch of highway in Tempe, Arizona. Tang began to swerve his vehicles in and out of his lane before abruptly cutting into the Waymo van's path and slamming on his brakes.

When interviewed by police about the collision, Tang eventually admitted to "brake-checking the Waymo" and, after investigators reviewed video footage of the accident, was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, endangerment, criminal damage, and reckless driving.

Reportedly, both Waymo vans being harassed by Tang were controlled manually during the time of the accident, meaning that neither vehicle was operating under any form of autonomy.

One van was able to avoid the crash, however, the lead vehicle (seen in the video above) was unable to stop in time and rear-ended Tang's car, resulting in more than $3,500 in damages to Waymo's semi-autonomous automobile. The safety driver involved in the collision taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the crash, as well as asthma-related difficulties.

In a statement regarding the crash, Waymo indicated that Tang had once worked for Genesis10, a staffing agency which the Alphabet-owned company previously contracted to staff its vehicle operator positions. Waymo went on to described Tang as a "disgruntled former Genesis10 vehicle operator whose assignment with Waymo ended nearly a year ago when he failed to meet the high safety standards."

This isn't the first time Tang was spotted harassing the semi-autonomous vehicles either. According to Waymo, Tang's vehicle was responsible for tormenting other company vehicles beginning in Nov. 2019.

Likewise, Tang seems like he isn't the only person with a bone to pick with the Arizona-based ride-hailing service. People have thrown rocks at Waymo's vans, slashed a tire in traffic, and one man was even arrested after pointing a handgun at a van passing his driveway in order to scare a safety driver.

It's not clear if people are angry with Waymo for testing their fleet of vehicles on public roads, or if the technology removes the human component of driving from the minds of onlookers. Still, Waymo isn't phased. In fact, the company says that this incident reminds it of its core mission: "to make it safe for people to get where they’re going and to help save the thousands of lives now lost to traffic crashes caused by humans.”

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