Was Uber’s Self-Driving Car Accident Preventable?

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In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian who was walking her bicycle across the street in a Phoenix suburb. An operator sitting in the driver’s seat failed to take control of the vehicle to avoid the collision. Video footage of the accident shows the operator may have been distracted in the moments before the accident. Uber pulled its fleet of self-driving vehicles from service after the accident.

A New York Times article claims Uber’s self-driving program suffered multiple setbacks before the crash. According to the article, Uber’s autonomous vehicles experience more failures than competing models. Uber’s vehicles allegedly have trouble driving through construction zones and around large vehicles. In addition to these problems, one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles was caught on camera running a red light in San Francisco.

Like other self-driving car programs, Uber uses operators to take control of its autonomous vehicles during emergencies. Compared to its competitors, Uber operators reportedly take control of the vehicles far more often. Waymo, a competitor of Uber, boasts its cars can travel for an average of 5,600 miles before operators have to intervene. Internal documents obtained by The New York Times show that Uber operators often intervene before driving for 13 miles. Uber has reportedly struggled to reduce these “intervention events.”

Do You Think Current Self-Driving Tech is Safe?

Self-driving vehicles are being tested here in Austin. You may have even seen these vehicles driving around your neighborhood. In addition, two recent car accidents involved Tesla’s Autopilot feature, which allows vehicles to operate semi-autonomously. Both accidents are under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

What do you think about self-driving vehicles? Are potential problems with this technology limited to Uber or could other companies suffer the same setbacks? Let us know what you think by connecting with our Austin personal injury law firm on Facebook and Twitter.



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