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Uber’s Autonomous Cars Backfired after Arizona Crash

They say the future of our transportation lies with the production of self-driving cars. Most first-world countries and tech-giant companies today such as Uber, invest billions of dollars in AI to produce autonomous cars. However, it seems the company’s ambitious project backfired even before they had the chance to receive the return on their investment. Let us uncover how is Uber struggling to maintain its ride-sharing services after the fatal Arizona Crash.

Uber Experienced Problems Before the Accident

Uber acquired the autonomous driving car project Waymo from Google in 2016

The New York Times released the company’s official document stating that Uber recently had suffered problems with the production of the robotic vehicles. According to the test road conducted in California last year, the car traveled an average of 5,600 miles before the driver intervened from the computer to take control. The unnamed driver stated that he took over to avoid an impending collision. If he didn’t maneuver the car, he would’ve ended up in a road accident.

Furthermore, Uber reduced the number of employees testing the car’s quality, which may have contributed to the diminishing performance of the project. Before, the company required at least two employees to conduct a test drive. The first employee would take control back once the AI system fails. While the other employee would record all the flaws and bugs detected during the test drive. However, a coupe of months later, Uber moved from two to a single operator.

Not only that but as of March this year, Uber failed meeting Arizona’s 13 miles human intervention guideline for autonomous cars which led to killing one woman. The said crash occurred last Sunday near the Mill Avenue and Curry Road where an Uber vehicle headed northbound when a 49-year old woman named Elaine Herzberg passed by the pedestrian line. The vehicle traveled in autonomous mode with a driver on the back when it hit her. Herzberg sustained fatal injuries that led to her death while the female driver inside the car remained unharmed.

Uber failed to disclose crucial information about the driver’s identity nor her qualifications to manage a self-driving car. Furthermore, the police currently have the vehicle in their possession. They confirmed that they will soon release an official statement for the case but first they need to continue with the investigation. They also said that the data obtained from the vehicle’s sensors and cameras can determine the crash’s cause that led to one casualty.

Uber’s CEO Khosrowshahi is planning to visit Arizona in April to conduct a test glitch-free drive on self-driving cars

Uber Halts Operations Involving Autonomous Cars

After the incident last Sunday, Uber received mass criticisms from the passengers and drivers which led the company to halt all of its operations involving autonomous cars. This incident was a huge setback considering the lead development company based in Phoenix is doing everything they can to impress the Uber’s CEO. However, their dream of hitting the US roads with robotic vehicles quickly fell apart after the crash.

Not only that, but Uber’s original plan to seek regulatory and road approval by December may have to wait since the company missed their milestone. They are also expected to experience considerable difficulties in implementing a self-driving car service in Arizona., especially since Uber took pride in promoting how autonomous cars provide a safer option than manual driving. The company aims to provide safer ride-sharing services to its passengers. However, that isn’t the case right now.

Arizona Police Department is currently Investigating the Uber vehicle involved in the accident

Damaged Reputation

An Uber Spokesperson released an official statement regarding the incident. They offered condolences to the victim, and they promised to provide financial support for the family. They also stated that they were cooperating with local authorities to fasten the investigation.

This incident inflicts a fatal blow to Uber’s reputation. Some experts believe the company is still in time to recuperate the damage on their reputation if they prove to the public the safety of self-driving cars. However, they may have to wait for years before they retain their customer’s loyalty and trust back.

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