A self-driving Uber car was involved in an accident in Tempe, Arizona, again fueling woes about the safety of autonomous driving technology.
The autonomous Uber vehicle flipped onto its side as a result of the collision, while the other car suffered dents and got its windows smashed.
Fresno News posted a photo of the two cars on Twitter, noting that it received it from one of its users.
— Fresco News (@fresconews) March 25, 2017
Albeit the two vehicles appear to be quite damaged, no injuries were reported, Fresno News added in a follow-up tweet.
Uber Self-Driving Car Not Responsible For The Crash
Bloomberg got in touch with an Uber representative, who confirmed both the accident and the veracity of the photos. The publication further learned from Tempe police information officer Josie Montenegro that the autonomous Uber car was not responsible for the car crash.
The accident occurred because another car failed to yield for the Uber car although it should have. The autonomous vehicle ended up flipped onto its side. Montenegro added that although there was a human driver behind the wheel of the Uber self-driving car, it remains unclear at this point whether the human driver was controlling the car at the time of the collision.
An Uber spokeswoman further added that no passengers were in the back seat of the self-driving vehicle. Uber will continue to investigate the accident and should offer additional details later.
Self-Driving Car Safety Woes
As autonomous driving continues to gain ground and expand its presence on U.S. roads, the accident will likely fuel even more questions about the safety of self-driving cars.
Automakers and technology companies are pouring billions into developing autonomous driving technology, but there's still a long way to go before self-driving cars can truly be ready to operate with no assistance from human drivers.
The fatal Tesla car crash from last year stirred a great deal of controversy regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles and some concerns are yet to be eased. A Google self-driving car also got in an accident last year, similarly sparking safety concerns.
Autonomous Driving Challenges
Truth be told, while autonomous driving technology continues to see impressive upgrades, there are still considerable challenges when it comes to sharing the road with human drivers. Some situations might seem simple to a human motorist, while a self-driving vehicle might find it difficult to navigate. That's partly because human drivers don't drive perfectly and are aware that others don't drive perfectly, so they are wary of various context that require rapid reaction based on the situation — like in Uber's case when the other driver did not yield.
Uber's self-driving car might not have been at fault in this accident, but it still fuels questions on whether a human driver would have avoided the collision. At the same time, the crash comes at an already difficult time for Uber, as the company is under scrutiny over a series of scandals.
Uber has faced accusations of running a sexist, hostile and abusive workplace; CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on camera in a heated argument with a Uber driver; a recent report revealed that Uber used a Greyball tool to help drivers bypass government regulations and officials; and the list goes on.