By on March 26, 2017

uber volvo

Uber’s infamously embattled autonomous car division took another hit Saturday after one of its self-driving Volvo XC90 test cars was involved in an accident in Tempe, Arizona. The technology company has since halted the pilot program, parking its self driving fleets in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco until further notice.

The crash occurred when a Ford Edge failed to yield to the Uber test vehicle as it made a left hand turn onto a major arterial road. The vehicle was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident and two “safety” drivers were also present in the front seats. The Uber wasn’t blamed for the crash and no serious injuries were reported. A tweet from news agency Fresco News shows the XC90 test car rolled on its side with a heavily damaged Edge sitting in the background.

“We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no back-seat passengers in the vehicle,” an Uber spokesperson said in a prepared statement.

Uber’s self driving car pilot program received some poor press in December after test vehicles were spotted running red lights, breezing through pedestrian crosswalks and nearly hitting other cars in San Francisco. Those incidents prompted California state regulators to order Uber to stop all autonomous car testing until it could obtain a proper permit for operating self-driving cars.

News of the collision comes just days after Uber president Jeff Jones quit the company and became another in a growing list of talent that has jumped ship in recent months. In February, one of its top engineers, Anthony Levandowski, quit the company after news surfaced that he had stole Google self-driving car offshoot Waymo’s LIDAR circuit-board technology. This prompted Waymo to file a lawsuit against Uber and its self-driving trucking division, Otto.

[Source: CNBC/Reuters]

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29 Comments on “Self Driving Uber Crashes In Arizona, Company Halts Pilot Program...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    With cars you shouldn’t mix meat and vegetables.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      True. News about meat on meat carnage is abundant. Meat on vegetable violence — some, like this story. But vegetable on vegetable is so far, unheard of… until a virus comes along.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        When we’re all happy veggies in our AVs there will be no violence!

        Also, by then VR porn will have become so immersive, who’ll have the energy left to rage?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    How long before someone dies? Lawyers everywhere must be salivating.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      The ambulance chasing biz needs some fresh meat.
      The increase in the number of lawyers and the reduction of injuries/deaths due to safer vehicles has really upped the competition.
      I think the tv business would starve without all the lawyer adverts these days.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Just to be clear- which vehicle was making the left turn? The meatsack-piloted Edge? if so, strange, usually those result in the vehicle failing to yield getting T-boned, yet the Uber car has no front end damage. I wonder what it did to try to avoid the collision.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The Uber car has front end damage, lower driver side valance. Less damage than I would expect though. The Edge has damage on the passenger side, rear door and quarter panel. As would be expected. One photo shows another car present with damage. Perhaps the Volvo’s motion was complex, which might explain why it capsized.

      Btw,referring to people as “meat” and “meatsacks” just seems a bit too aspirational.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Self driving cars are the vehicular equivalent of fusion power- nice in concept, but economically and materially inadvisable.

    Want to make the roads safer? Start with properly training the people already using them.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “training” doesn’t make people less impatient, or less drunk, or less road-ragey, or more attentive while they’re staring at their phones.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      You can’t get people to wash their hands after sh1tting.

      I don’t hold out much hope for an activity many rungs higher in the skills and focus hierarchy.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        …That’s the best summary of our society’s utter hopelessness that I’ve ever read, OMP.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          Well, thanks, but I wouldn’t limit that to just our society. For a brief and shining century, it had been quite the opposite.

          • 0 avatar

            “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

            This is known as “bad luck.”

            ― Robert A. Heinlein

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating..”

            Get that noisy harmonica OUT THERE Ronnie!

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          +1

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        This is the kind of comment that will be quoted for years to come. Brilliant answer.

        …even though it doesn’t change the realities of it. Most other Western nations have much stricter driving school requirements. None has the US’s traffic death rate.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Per mile, it’s hardly that cut and dry.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

          Northern Europe looks bit lower. But the geography is also much different there. Compact cities where people drive few miles slowly, connected by faster roads through unpopulated areas where miles are quickly racked up. While most miles in the US is racked up hacking though dense sprawl at 35-55. That could well be a contributing factor. Although I do share the superstition that the average German is more competent behind the wheel than the average Californian. And the average Volvo driving Scandinavian less aggressive than the average New Yorker.

          • 0 avatar
            Sjalabais

            That’s a great link! You have some nive arguments there, but the main concept still stands. Immeasurable “cultural factors” also play a huge role, as you can tell from the worsening conditions the further one gets to the East and South of Europe. But most of Europe is pretty dense. Here in Norway, really bad roads and slow speeds have a positive influence on the number of fatalities; crashes tend not to be so severe.

            Also, this article is very interesting and I guess it remains true, two years later?
            http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21656668-despite-improvements-driving-america-remains-extraordinarily-dangerous-road-kill

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          IME better driver training programs are better because they teach things like how to deal with adverse road conditions and how to handle a situation where things aren’t going “according to plan.” E.g. skids on slick roads, etc.

          No amount of training can solve inattentiveness, recklessness (how many times have you seen a$$hole teenagers driving like utter jerks?) or impairment.

          I daresay many/most of the traffic collisions are the result of someone doing something stupid, and not the result of not knowing what to do.

  • avatar

    The technology is promising, but it is NOT mature.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Are we gonna have unscrupulous drivers crashing into autonomous cars on purpose in an attempt to blame the robo-car and make some quick money?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Computers may be smart, they’re just not smart enough to detect/predict/react to dumb.

  • avatar
    ErickKS

    So, it sounds like the Uber was not the car that initiated the impact?

  • avatar
    Joss

    When the first vehicles appeared wasn’t there a pedestrian in front with a red flag? Well that’s what we’re going through now – the red flag phase.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Q: If the Uber car wasn’t blamed for the accident, and if AV companies are so eager to brag about their cars’ future capabilities (Uber, Tesla, Volvo, Ford, etc), then *why* did Uber pull the vehicles?

    A: Here’s why – because someday, the liability *will* fall upon the AV mfr of an SAE Level 4 or 5 vehicle, perhaps for the occupants inside the vehicle, not just outside it. If the company was truly confident, they’d put that XC90 on its wheels and send it back out into the fray.

    I bet those guys who were ‘slightly’ injured are second-guessing their contract not to sue (which I’m sure they have).

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Do you know what worker’s comp is?

      “Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. ”

      See the part about mandatory?

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