Insane Moment: Man Tries to Hijack Self-Driving Car

metamorworks /
metamorworks /

In a classic case of high-tech hijinks, a Los Angeles man found himself in hot water last Sunday after attempting to pull off the ultimate heist – stealing a self-driving taxi downtown. But the joke’s on him because, despite repeated warnings to cut it out, he couldn’t even figure out how to drive the thing. At the ripe age of 33, Vincent Maurice Jones overlooked a vital fact: these cars aren’t your run-of-the-mill getaway rides.

The incident occurred on March 3, and thanks to California’s lax criminal laws, Jones was released later that day, with a court date set for March 28. According to reports from law enforcement, Jones was dropped off by a white Jaguar on Main Street, north of 1st Street, around 10:30 p.m.

He then entered one of Waymo’s autonomous rideshare cars and attempted to take control of it. However, he could not manipulate the controls effectively enough to put the car in drive. During the attempted theft, a representative from Waymo communicated through the car’s system, warning Jones to leave. The Police were notified after Jones failed to heed the warning. Jones was arrested by an officer from LAPD’s Central Division for attempted grand theft auto.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, offers free rides in parts of LA, including Santa Monica, Century City, West Hollywood, and downtown LA. The rides are part of the company’s trial to determine the effectiveness of the cars.

Despite some initial hiccups, Waymo has provided 15,000 rides during the trial period. Recent approvals from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Public Utilities Commission signal further expansion for Waymo’s operations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, including additional areas downtown. However, specific timelines for these new operations have not been disclosed by the company.

A Waymo spokesperson emphasized their commitment to a cautious and incremental approach to expansion, prioritizing safety and collaboration with local authorities and communities. However, recent incidents, such as the vandalism of a Waymo vehicle in San Francisco’s Chinatown, highlight challenges and concerns surrounding the company’s growth.