More bad news for Uber: one of the ride-hailing giants self-driving Volvo SUVs has been involved in a crash in Arizona apparently leaving the vehicle flipped onto its side, and with damage to at least two other human-drivencars in the vicinity.
The aftermath of the accidentispictured in photos and a video posted to Twitter by a user of@FrescoNews, a service forselling content to news outlets. According to thecompanys tweets, the collision happened in Tempe, Arizona, andno injuries have yet been reported.
Uber has also confirmed the accident and the veracity of the photosto Bloomberg. Weve reached out to the company with questions and will update this story with any response.Update:Uber has now provided us with the following statement: We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle.
TechCrunch understands Ubers self-driving fleet in Arizona has been grounded, following the incident, while an investigation is undertaken. The company has confirmed the vehicle involved in the incident was in self-driving mode. Were told no one was seriously injured.
Local newspaper reports suggest another car failed to yield to Ubers SUV, hitting it and resulting in the autonomous vehicle flipping onto its side. Presumably the Uberdriver was unable to take over the controls in time to prevent the accident.
The third-gen self-driving test cars were redeployed to Arizona from San Francisco in December, after Uber refused to bend to California regulators will andseek a permit for testing autonomous driving in the state. Itclaimed it does not need the permit as all its self-driving test vehicles have a human driver in them too.
Arizona state Governor Doug Ducey tweeted at the time that the region welcomed this kind of technology & innovation. Ducey does not as yet appear to have made any public statements regarding todaysUber accident.
Given that the Uber vehicle has flipped onto its side it looks to be a high speed crash, which suggests a pretty serious incidentversus the mostlyminor accidentsdetailed by Googles longer-lived self-driving car unit, Waymo, such as low speed rear-end shunts of the vehicles (byhuman-powered cars driving behind them).
Another concerning incident involving an Uber self-driving car occurred last December in California when one of itsvehicles ran a red light though Uber blamedthison human error, rather thanthe fault of theself-driving tech. (Although aNew York Timesreport, citing two Uber sources, claimedthe opposite.)
Leaked internal documents have also suggested Ubersself-driving technology isnt makingsteadyimprovements.
In February, the head of Ubers self-drive program who is himself being sued for allegedly stealing technology from Googles Waymo, where he used to work, and using it to set up Otto, the self-driving truck startup thatUber acquired in August last year confirmed Uber has 12 self-driving cars apiece on the roads inPhoenix and Pittsburgh.
Earlier this montha New York Times report also claimedthe companywas using aproprietary software tool to denyrides to members of code enforcement authoritiesor city officials thatwereattempting to gather data about Uber offering service where its currently prohibited. The company has since said it is reviewing use of the tool which it claims can be used for many purposes.
The company is also facing a storm of controversy over allegations of systemic sexism poisoning its corporate culture withpresident Jeff Jones leavingin recent days, and reports that Uberdenied recruiters diversity data, piling more pressure on founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.