Uber Brings Self-Driving Program Back After Car Crashes in Arizona
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UPDATE: An Uber spokesperson said on Monday afternoon that it will resume its self-driving car operations in all three cities where they operate. The company did not offer further details on Friday's crash in Arizona, but said that it is confident in returning the vehicles to the road.
Following a collision that caused significant damage to an Uber self-driving car in Arizona last week, the company has suspended its autonomous driving experiments in Arizona and Pittsburgh.
A photo on Twitter shows one of the Volvo SUVs fitted with Uber self-driving tech resting on its side near another battered vehicle, suggesting a major collision. A Tempe, Ariz., police spokesperson confirmed the collision in an email to Reuters, explaining that a human-driven vehicle "failed to yield" to the SUV.
"The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side," Josie Montenegro told Reuters. "There were no serious injuries."
Following the collision, Uber suspended its U.S. self-driving programs in Tempe, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The company resumed testing in San Francisco on Monday, since that program involves just two vehicles for research purposes and does not accept paying passengers.
While self-driving vehicle collisions aren't unheard of, they're typically of the minor fender-bender variety. Google's autonomous test vehicles have been involved in several crashes over the years, including an incident last September when another car ran a red light and collided with a Google SUV. A more serious crash last year left a Tesla driver dead after his car, operating in "Autpilot," collided head-on with a truck.
Last week's collision appears to be the first major crash involving an Uber self-driving car, but the company's self-driving experiment has been mired in controversy before. In December, Uber was forced to suspend its San Francisco self-driving program after it refused to secure a permit from California's Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV revoked the vehicles' licenses, although the cars returned to the city in January for mapping and research purposes, instead of picking up paying passengers.
The provenance of the company's self-driving technology is also in question, following a lawsuit last month from Google subsidiary Waymo, which alleges that Uber used Google's trade secrets without permission to develop its own self-driving cars. Uber claims the suit is "baseless."