Uber was warned of driverless car dangers before fatal crash

Former manager claimed the self-driving vehicles were ‘hitting things nearly every 15,000 miles’

Uber has suspended self-driving car trials following fatal collision with pedestrian
Uber suspended its self-driving car trials after the fatal collision in Tempe, Arizona in March
(Image credit: Source: Supplied)

Uber was reportedly warned of the dangers posed by autonomous cars just days before one of its driverless prototypes struck and killed a pedestrian.

The autonomous Volvo XC90 hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, in March as she was crossing the street at night while pushing a bicycle.

Rafaela Vasquez, who was behind the wheel at the time, had been looking down while the vehicle was moving and glanced up less than a second before the crash, according to Reuters.

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However, it has emerged that a former operations manager at Uber, Robbie Miller, had emailed the firm’s executives in February claiming that the vehicles were “routinely in accidents”, the BBC reports.

Miller blamed shortcomings in the technology and the “poor behaviour” of the vehicle’s drivers, adds the broadcaster.

According to the Daily Mail, Miller said that the vehicles were “hitting things nearly every 15,000 miles” and that some were being damaged “nearly every other day”.

The cases, however, were “essentially ignored” and Miller left the company three days after sending the email, which “never received a response from any of the executives it was sent to”, the newspaper adds.

While Uber has yet to officially respond to the reports, it did tell The Information that “the entire team is focused on safely and responsibly returning to the road in self-driving mode. We have every confidence in the work that the team is doing to get us there.”

After Herzberg’s death, Uber halted its autonomous vehicle tests and “completely shuttered” its testing programme in Arizona, says ArsTechnica.

The ride-hailing firm is now looking to begin trials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, albeit on a “drastically smaller scale”, the tech site says.

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