Uber’s ambitious self-driving program has hit a bit of a speed bump.
One of the company’s self driving cars crashed in somewhat spectacular fashion in Tempe, Arizona. The car was photographed lying on its side by onlookers.
— Fresco News (@fresconews) March 25, 2017
There are no details yet on how the incident took place, but Uber said that no serious injuries were reported. “We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle,” Uber said. Uber’s self driving cars usually have a driver who can take over from the self-driving mechanism if needed.
Following the incident, Uber has temporarily suspended its self driving program in Arizona. Uber had a fledging self driving program in the state, carrying as many as 150 weekly passengers on its self driving vehicles.
There have been concerns that Uber’s self-driving program hasn’t been progressing at the pace that the company had hoped. Documents obtained by Recode had shown that Uber’s self-driving cars needed manual intervention every 0.8 miles by their human driver; this number hasn’t improved since the beginning of February. Also, the cars need a “critical intervention” every 196 miles of driving, meaning that the car would’ve hit pedestrians or caused material property damage.
And accidents aren’t the only problems plaguing Uber’s self-driving dreams – just last month, Google has sued it for allegedly stealing secrets from its own self-driving program. Google alleges that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who’d left to start truck driving startup Otto which was quickly acquired by Uber, had illegally downloaded confidential data before he left. This data was later supposedly used to help give Uber’s self driving program a fillip by using technologies that Google had spent years developing.
The latest accident is yet another addition to the list of unsavory incidents that have plagued Uber in 2017. This year, Uber’s had to fight off a spate of sexual harassment charges from its employees, deal with a series of driver strikes across the world, then deal with a #DeleteUber campaign which protested against the company breaking a strike, and had its CEO caught on camera get into an altercation with one of its driver partners. The world’s most valuable startup has had a nightmarish start to 2017; it’ll need every bit of its famed tenacity to bring itself back on track.