After major crash, Uber suspends self-driving car project

27 Mar 2017

Uber logos. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

With the company’s board in turmoil, Uber is now finding it just as hard on the road, suspending its self-driving car project after a major crash.

Uber has had little to celebrate of late, with its president calling it quits over issues with the company, and its senior vice-president of engineering being fired after a culture of rampant sexism and discrimination was revealed.

To further compound things, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick came forward with an apology for some harsh words directed at one of the company’s drivers, which was caught on tape at the beginning of this month.

Now, Uber’s attempts to develop a fleet of self-driving cars has stalled, following a major crash that took place between one of its test vehicles and a car driven by a member of the public.

According to Bloomberg, the incident took place in Tempe, Arizona, where Uber’s car was struck so hard that it was flipped on its side.

However, the police report into the incident said that the Uber vehicle – with a human behind the wheel – was not being held responsible for the crash, as the other car had failed to yield it.

Regardless, an Uber spokesperson said that it will conduct a full investigation into the incident and, until that has concluded, it will suspend its self-driving car project.

Still banned in California

Uber has been running tests in Tempe for more than a month, where it has begun picking up fares under the supervision of a human behind the wheel, similar to what it first undertook in the city of Pittsburgh last year.

However, its relationship with authorities in other cities and states has not been as cooperative. Last December, Uber was banned from testing self-driving cars in its native state of California.

Rather than a hesitancy to trial new technology, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued the ban after it was found the company did not have a state permit to test the cars.

On top of that, Uber also finds itself embroiled in a legal battle with its Silicon Valley neighbour Alphabet, over allegations that the former’s Otto subsidiary stole self-driving vehicle tech.

Uber logos. Image: AlesiaKan/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic