Uber suspends self-driving cars operations after Arizona crash
By April Kirstin Chua
Uber Technologies Inc. is suspending its self-driving cars after one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in an accident in Tempe, Arizona. This is the latest incident from the company that is facing one controversy after the other.
Pictures posted online showed Uber's Volvo self-driving SUV, on Friday, next to another badly damaged vehicle. Although no one was hurt in the accident, a spokeswoman for the police in Tempe, Arizona confirmed the incident and veracity of the photo. According to her, the accident occurred because the other vehicle failed to yield to the Uber car at a left turn. She adds that Uber is planning to suspend its self-driving car program in Arizona until it completes the investigation and has paused Pittsburgh operations.
"There was a person behind the wheel," spokeswoman Josie Montenegro said in a statement. "It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision." On the other hand, an Uber spokeswoman said the ride-hailing company is looking into the incident and further assured that no backseat passengers were inside the vehicle.
Uber successfully introduced its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh last year and soon expanded operations in Arizona. The company ran into obstacles in San Francisco last December when it began testing the self-driving cars without permits. The permits require companies to disclose the number of accidents their cars have been involved with.
The transportation network company's intention in bringing the self-driving cars is to demonstrate Uber's progress with nascent technology. Uber began picking up customers in Arizona last month after Governor Doug Dacey took the inaugural ride. This is not the first time that the company has been mired in controversy for its self-driving cars.
Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo sued an Uber unit called Otto for allegedly stealing designs for an important component of driverless cars know as lidar. Also, for the last two months, Uber has dealt with issues concerning the company's workplace and business practices. In March, several media outlets reported the existence of a tool called Greyball used by Uber engineers to dodge officials cracking down on Uber drivers worldwide. Additionally, Uber's chief executive, Travis Kalanick, apologized and said he needed leadership help after Bloomberg published a video of him arguing with an Uber driver.