In September 2016, Uber launched its first self-driving car on the roads of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Since then, various setbacks and controversies have plagued Uber, related to its use of driverless vehicles during mapping and testing for passenger pickups. These problems have at times led to lawsuits and run-ins with the California DMV.
The latest incident, this past Friday, involves the crash of a self-driving Uber SUV in Phoenix, Arizona, a crash that spotlights the risk these vehicles may pose to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
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Uber’s Dilemmas with Self-Driving Cars
In December 2016, Uber implemented its self-driving program in its home base of San Francisco, but the California DMV quickly shut down the operation. The state demanded more transparency in the program and its reporting, and this occurred while Uber was mapping, not picking up passengers.
Arizona became the company’s haven and lifeline of its autonomous car program, but just as that initiative got off the ground, new issues arose. First, many citizens complained that the state’s lax approach to the program endangered other drivers. Second, a company called Waymo claimed Uber had stolen the designs for its self-driving cars from their technology.
The spotlight on the company’s program highlights concerns over the proper amount of government regulation of self-driving cars, company use of state roadways for product testing, insurance requirements for such vehicles, and the potential danger those vehicles pose to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
In addition to these issues, Uber is also responding to claims that it runs a sexist workplace, specifically that the company routinely ignores sexual harassment complaints. While unrelated, this issue only complicates Uber’s move into this new venture of providing a ride-sharing service.
Events Surrounding the Recent Accident and Reactions to it
On Friday night, Uber was testing an autonomous vehicle in Tempe with two test drivers onboard. The SUV flipped onto its side, but luckily neither of the persons involved was seriously injured. According to Business Insider, this was not the company’s first incident with an autonomous car, as an Uber self-driving vehicle was caught running a red light in California back in December 2016.
ABC News has clarified that the driver of a different vehicle made a left-hand turn in front of the autonomous SUV, causing Uber’s SUV accident. Despite that instance of human error, the accident shows how autonomous cars may not be fully equipped to detect and respond to sudden changes on the road. The opposing perspective, of course, asks whether autonomous vehicles still perform better than human drivers do. In the days following the accident, Uber suspended its self-driving program in Arizona and elsewhere, but everything is back up and running now according to Reuters and other sources.
In Arizona, and other states that allow autonomous vehicles, the law still requires a test driver to be in the car and able to take control if necessary. The test drivers of the Uber SUV could have taken control of the Uber vehicle if they had had the time to respond appropriately. Yet concerns with Uber’s program remain over the potential for serious personal injury if a self-driving car malfunctions, miscalculates, or is unable to adjust to changing conditions. Two of the biggest questions are, if such concerns result in injury, who is to blame, and how do injured persons bring an appropriate lawsuit?
Speak with an Uber Car Accident Lawyer
Our Miami personal injury law firm is dedicated to helping victims of Uber car accidents fight for their rights. We have successfully filed hundreds of Florida car accident claims for numerous clients, and we are ready to do the same for you. It is important to remember that time is critical in any type of compensation claim; accordingly, if you, or someone you love has been the victim of an Uber car accident, we suggest you call us immediately at 305-441-0440 or email us directly at [email protected].
Call the legal team at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers for answers to these important questions and others involving personal injuries from motor vehicle accidents. Our office is always available toll-free at 1-866-597-4529.