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Uber Suspends, Restarts Self-Driving Tests After Accident in Arizona

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【Summary】After one of its self-driving Volvos was involved in an accident with another vehicle, Uber has suspended its autonomous car program in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 27, 2017 1:15 PM PT
Uber Suspends, Restarts Self-Driving Tests After Accident in Arizona

It's been a long and arduous road for Uber to get its self-driving cars on the road and the ride-sharing company has just faced another major setback. According to a report by Bloomberg, Uber suspended its driverless program after one of its self-driving Volvos was involved in an accident in Tempe, Ariz. 

Autonomous Car Not At Fault

The accident, as the outlet reports, was a high-impact crash that resulted in a self-driving Volvo SUV on its side, with a heavily-damaged Ford SUV to the left of it. A spokeswoman from the ride-hailing company confirmed the incident to Bloomberg and told the outlet that the company would suspend its driverless tests in the state until an investigation is complete. Uber, according to the outlet, would also bring its operations in Pittsburgh to a halt. 

Tempe police information officer Josie Montenegro told Bloomberg News that Uber's autonomous car was not at fault for the accident and that no one was harmed. The report states that the other vehicle failed to yield for the driverless vehicle, causing it to flip onto its side. 

"There was a person behind the wheel," said Montenegro in regard to Uber's autonomous vehicle. "It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision." 

An Uber spokeswoman told Bloomberg that that company "are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle." A report by Reuters claims that there were two "safety" drivers in the front seat of Uber's vehicle, which was operating autonomously, the company stated in an email to the outlet.

While a large accident like the one that occurred in Arizona would have any self-driving company reevaluating its testing, a report by Reuters claims that Uber's self-driving cars are already back at work in San Francisco, Calif. A spokeswoman from the ride-hailing company told the outlet that its driverless cars were still grounded in Arizona and Pennsylvania, though. 

"We are resuming our development operations in San Francisco this morning," the spokeswoman wrote in an email reports Reuters.  

Uber Continues Its Uphill Battle

This isn't the first time one of Uber's driverless vehicles has been involved in a traffic incident. Last December, one of its cars was captured running through a red light, which the company blamed on human error and not its autonomous technology. Other reports, though, disagreed with the company, citing two sources that claimed the vehicle was indeed at fault. 

Uber's self-driving program has gone through numerous hurdles in the past year. After failing to meet California's strict regulations in regard to autonomous vehicles, the company pulled its driverless cars from San Francisco's streets. The company then turned to Arizona as a place to test its cars and began using its cars to ferry people around the Tempe area in its self-driving vehicles this year. 

The company then went back to California to test its autonomous vehicles by getting the proper registration and documents for its vehicles. While the company has hard a difficult time getting its driverless cars on the road, the company is also in the midst of a lawsuit with Waymo that claims a former employee stole secrets to help aid Otto (a truck startup that Uber owns) develop self-driving tech.


Photo Credit: Fresco News

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