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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on March 30th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Uber Restarts Self-Driving Vehicle Testing

March 30th, 2017 by  

As an update on our earlier coverage revealing that Uber had put testing of its self-driving tech on hold following an accident in Tempe, Arizona (that wasn’t caused by the Uber vehicle), it seems that the company has already resumed testing once again.

So, the hiatus was very short lived, and the internal investigation apparently yielded nothing too noteworthy. That’s about all that’s been revealed by Uber, and that testing has resumed in all 3 cities that the company is using, but the local police department has provided some interesting bits of data itself.

Image credit: Volvo

Reuters provides more: “A human-driven vehicle ‘failed to yield’ to an Uber vehicle while making a turn, said Josie Montenegro, a spokeswoman for Tempe’s police department. The Uber car was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash. ‘The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,’ Montenegro said in an email. ‘There were no serious injuries.’

“A driver and an engineer were in the front seats of the Uber Volvo SUV at the time, a standard requirement for the self-driving cars. The back seat was unoccupied. A full police report on the crash is expected as early as the middle of this week, said Detective Lily Duran of the Tempe Police Department. She said the Uber vehicle was not at fault in the collision.”

Notably, this is the first time that one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles have been in an accident (though Google/Waymo’s have been in a few now). Despite the worries of skeptics, there have yet to be any serious accidents caused by self-driving vehicles (some people will probably reference the Tesla Autopilot fatality that we reported on last year, but that tech was more of an advanced cruise control [only 1 camera, etc] than a fully autonomous self-driving system, and thus not comparable).

The Reuters coverage included this interesting quote from Hod Lipson, professor of mechanical engineering and roboticist at Columbia University: “Driverless cars keep getting better the more they drive, whereas humans have a roughly constant safety record over the years. The idea that somehow a human driver makes the drive more secure is false comfort, and potentially dangerously misleading.”

Lipson noted that there are around 23,000 traffic fatalities a week around the world.


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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