California is in the forefront of the self-driving car movement. Only a few U.S. cities have these little modern wonders tooling around their streets and it will take more than the recent accident to keep them off the roads despite being suspended for a few days.
An Uber self-driving Volvo moving around Tempe, Arizona was involved in a three-vehicle wreck in March of 2017 when a driver made a left turn without being able to clearly see all lanes of oncoming traffic. The Uber approached her in the one lane she could not see and the driver crashed into it. The driver, Alexandra Cole, cited that she saw the Uber coming too late to break and struck it, sending it into a light pole, bumping into two other cars and landing on its side. The Uber was in autonomous mode but did carry two Uber employees. The company has estimated the Uber’s speed was approximately 38 mph in a 40 mph zone. No one was hurt in the accident. Uber has been operating self-driving cars in the Tempe area since December of 2016 although they have been developing the technology for a shorter time than other companies.
In response to the accident, Uber shut down its self-driving car services in Tempe, Pittsburgh and San Francisco for the whole weekend. They reopened Monday after Uber execs investigated the wreck to make sure the car was in proper working order when it was hit. The accident was determined to be Cole’s fault and she was cited.
Uber has been quick about getting paying riders in their self-driving cars but placing a safety driver inside as well to take control if the need arises. So quickly have they come on the scene, after less time on the drawing board, that companies like Google’s Waymo are suing Uber and their technology company, Otto, for stolen intellectual property.
The prevailing belief is that autonomous cars will be a big game changer is ride sharing more so than a replacement of personal vehicles. In response to this Ford, GM and Tesla have begun producing their own autonomous cars and could soon be in competition with Uber for the ride share dollars.
Experts say more autonomous cars on the road will lead to less accidents but retractors claim as long as humans remain behind the wheel and on the roads, accidents will always occur. These three cities have their autonomous Ubers back on the road. The rest of the country awaits their arrival with varying degrees of eagerness.