In the latest setback for the world’s most valuable private company which in recent weeks has been reeling from multiple crises, on Friday a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a crash in Tempe Arizona, which left the Volvo SUV stranded on its side. According to ABC15, a car failed to yield to the autonomous SUV and hit it, authorities said. The self-driving vehicle then rolled onto its side.
A photo posted on Twitter showed one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. As Bloomberg notes, the photo, showing the Uber SUV on its side, suggests a relatively high-impact crash. That would be a contrast to the incidents involving self-driving cars tested by Waymo.
BREAKING: Self-driving Uber vehicle on it’s side after a collision in Tempe, AZ.
— Fresco News (@fresconews) March 25, 2017
According to the ABC reports, no injuries were reported however, police said there was a passenger in the self-driving car. The person was behind the wheel but it’s unclear whether they were controlling the SUV or not. Uber’s self-driving cars began picking up customers in Arizona last month. Uber told ABC15 that they’re aware of the incident and will provide an update when they have more details.
As Bloomberg adds, Uber, and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, have been under scrutiny following a series of scandals. The ride-hailing company has been accused of operating a sexist workplace. This month, the New York Times reported that Uber used a tool called Greyball to help drivers evade government regulators and enforcement officials. And Kalanick said he needed “leadership help” after Bloomberg published a video showing him arguing with an Uber driver.
In the latest hit piece overnight, the Information reported that a woman who dated Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for three years, Gabi Holzwarth, said she was with Mr. Kalanick when he and a team of five Uber employees visited an escort-karaoke bar in Seoul in mid-2014.
At the bar, women sat in a circle, identified by numbered tags. Four male Uber managers picked women out of the group, calling out their numbers, and sat with them, she says. About an hour later, she and Mr. Kalanick left.
Uber’s self-driving car program has also been mired in controversy. Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous driving business, sued an Uber unit called Otto earlier this year for allegedly stealing designs for an important component of driverless cars known as lidar. Uber called the suit “baseless.” In more than two million miles of testing on public roads, Waymo’s vehicles were mostly minor incidents, often when other cars drove into the back of their vehicles in busy areas.
Last night’s Uber crash will likely rekindle the controversy over the safety of self-driven vehicles, and could potentially delay full implementation for a material period of time. Additionally while it is unclear which driver caused the crash, the accident will raise questions if it is found that the software was controlling the car at the time and why it was unable to avoid the collision. According to Axios, Uber has been working to avoid regulation for its self-driving cars and in Arizona especially it had a heavy hand in shaping the state’s legislation on self-driving car testing.