Self-drive Uber crashes: is the dream dead?

Uber’s dream to put fleets of self-drive cars on the road hit a speedbump late last month when a test-Uber collected a Honda CRV at 61km/h while driving through an orange light at an Arizona intersection. The crash was deemed to be the Honda driver’s fault – she admits she didn’t see the Uber coming ­– but it has raised questions over the safety of removing the ‘human judgement’ factor. The Uber’s ‘driver’ (who was sitting in the vehicle but not actively driving) said he “saw the accident as it was about to happen but had no time to react”.  Had a human been in charge, says one commentator, it’s likely they would have seen the vehicles turning across the traffic ahead and slowed down to be safe. The inability of autonomous vehicles to react appropriately in such circumstances is described as problematic.  (You can see the result of the accident here.)

The Arizona programme was suspended while the crash was investigated but is reportedly back underway. Similar test-programmes in other states continued while the crash was being investigated.  In terms of the dream: we think you could say it’s dented, but not dead. (You can read more on the Uber self-drive programme here.)