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Problems With Uber’s Self-Driving Fleet Reported

On the heels of our last post — where we talked about the U.S. House of Representatives allowing car companies to accelerate their plans to widely release self-driving cars to the public — we would like to detail some less than flattering news about Uber’s self-driving vehicle fleet, and, more generally, some scary news for all autonomous vehicles.

A few weeks ago, Uber experienced its first car accident with one of its self-driving vehicles in the city of San Francisco. The wreck occurred when the person in the driver’s seat of the autonomous vehicle disengaged the self-driving feature, doing so to allow pedestrians to cross a street. A vehicle behind the self-driving Uber car crashed into it. No injuries were reported.

Though this crash is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, it still raises a bunch of important questions. In our last post, we brought some of the important self-driving liability questions up — but consider the unique circumstances here that could very soon become common everyday occurrences. When a person assumes control of a self-driving vehicle, who is at fault? The driver? The automaker? Under what circumstances is it considered justified for a person to “turn off” the self-driving feature of an autonomous vehicle?

This article also raised the concern of self-driving cars running red lights due to sensory errors or issues. Imagine what could happen in the early days of a wide release for self-driving cars. Many new errors and glitches will be found. How many people will suffer injuries as a result of this?

Source: Business Journal, “Uber’s self-driving vehicle has first California car crash in San Francisco,” Riley McDermid, Aug. 30, 2017