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Friday, March 31, 2017

Uber suspends fleet of self-driving cars following Arizona crash

Posted by TheGuardian

Uber has suspended its fleet of self-driving cars while it investigates a crash in Arizona involving one of its vehicles.

The Uber Technologies car – a Volvo SUV – was carrying two engineers in the front and no backseat passengers but it is not yet clear whether the car was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash.

The incident is the latest blow for the car-hailing app which has been left reeling by a series of setbacks in recent weeks including the departure of its president, Jeff Jones.

Initial police reports suggest the collision was caused by a person who failed to give way to the self-driving car rather than a malfunction by the Uber vehicle.

However, pending further investigation, the company has removed all its self-driving cars from the road in Arizona, as well as test sites in Pennsylvania and California – all three states where it operated the driverless vehicles.

A spokesperson for the police in Tempe, Arizona, said the crash happened when another car “failed to yield” to an Uber car at a left turn. Josie Montenegro said: “There was a person behind the wheel. It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision.”

Uber self-driving cars always have a human in the driving seat who can take over the controls.

The latest incident follows recent difficult months for the firm, which has seen a number of high level executives quit and has faced criticism over workplace practices and ethics.

Meanwhile legal issues have been hampering progress with the testing of its autonomous vehicle technology in California.

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