Last summer, Uber announced that it would begin testing its fleet of self-driving Uber vehicles. The first place it started testing the new fleet was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first autonomous cars were Volvo XC90s, and, of course, they were supervised by humans in the drivers’ seats. In August, Uber started allowing customers to summon self-driving cars in downtown Pittsburgh from their phones via an app, a milestone that no other technology or automotive company has ever achieved.
Tempe, Arizona and San Francisco, California See Autonomous Uber Cars
In December, NPR announced that Uber started offering rides in self-driving cars in San Francisco, California. However, state regulators threw a fit saying that Uber did not have the mandatory permits to do so. Uber argued that because the cars are not ready to operate without a driver monitoring the automobile, they do not need self-driving car permits. California’s DMV continued to press that Uber needed permits, threatening legal action against the company.
PC Magazine announced the arrival of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona in February. These, too, would have a driver behind the wheel for safety reasons. Tempe, Arizona residents were able to use the UberX app to request a ride, and if they were one of the lucky ones, they would be picked up by a self-driving car. If they were not brave enough to try the new technology, they could simply cancel the ride and put in a new request. Prices were the same as regular Uber rides.
Problems for Self-Driving Uber Cars
The experiment, as the New York Times said, quickly began to have problems. One was an autonomous Uber Volvo that blasted through a red light on a busy street in San Francisco, in front of the Museum of Modern Art. Uber claimed that human error was the issue in that incident, that there was no rider in the car, and the company later suspended the driver. A company spokeswoman noted, “This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Uber vehicles.” However, two employees of Uber who asked to remain anonymous said that the car was, indeed, operating in self-driving mode when it zoomed through the red light. In fact, a total of six red lights were run by Uber self-driving cars in San Francisco.
Accident in Tempe, Arizona
It did not take long before the fleets in all three states were suspended. Throwing Uber into yet another crisis, a Tempe, Arizona self-driving Uber Volvo was involved in a high-impact collision. According to Bloomberg, no one was injured in the accident, although both of the cars involved were beat-up pretty badly, with smashed windows, dents, and the Uber car landing on its side. After the investigation was concluded, it was determined that the Uber car was not at fault. In fact, the other car failed to yield to the Uber car.
Uber has since resumed the self-driving cars in the three cities, but that does not mean that they have done anything special to keep our highways safe from other incidents. In fact, with the track record that Uber has, it is just a matter of time before their self-driving cars are back in the news spotlight with another crisis. If you or someone you love has been injured in an Uber accident in Pennsylvania, contact a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call Solnick & Associates, LLC today at (215) 415-6495 for a free consultation.