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Uber’s autonomous testing takes a tumble

Bloody Volvo self-driver: Uber’s self-driving Volvo XC90 was involved in a crash in the US that put it on its side, but reports say the car was not at fault.

Self-driving program from Uber put on hold after test mule crash

27 Mar 2017

RIDE-SHARING company Uber has suspended its driverless car program in the US following a crash in Tempe, Arizona that saw one of its Volvo XC90 test cars flipped on its side, however it has been revealed that the Volvo was not at fault for the crash.

The crash was made public after photos emerged on Twitter of the flipped XC90 next to another car that had suffered panel damage to its flank, with a spokesperson from Uber later confirming it was an autonomous car.

According to reports, the crash happened after the second vehicle failed to yield when the Uber vehicle had right of way, and despite the Uber having an occupant in the driver’s seat, no one was harmed.

Laws require someone to be behind the wheel of a vehicle and capable of taking control when autonomous testing is taking place, and it is not yet known whether the car was operating autonomously at the time of the crash.

The testing in Arizona will be suspended until Uber completes its investigation of the incident, and testing in Pittsburgh – the original self-driving hub for the ride-sharing company – will also be paused.

Uber’s autonomous program has not been without incident, when in December last year it was forced to pull test mules off the streets of San Francisco after it was found the vehicles were running red lights.

The program was pulled the same day the company had announced its expansion to San Francisco, with the Californian department of motor vehicles also alleging that Uber had failed to obtain the correct permits for operating the vehicles on the roads.

Uber claimed that the traffic violations were due to human error and not the autonomous systems, and that the responsible drivers had been suspended.

Volvo is part of the self-driving partnership with Uber, which launched in August last year and is one of three parts of the Swedish manufacturer’s Drive Me autonomous driving project.

The other two parts involve a large-scale autonomous test of up to 100 vehicles on the road of Gothenburg, Sweden, and a joint venture with safety tech company Autoliv to set up a jointly owned company that will develop and manufacture autonomous technology and driver assistance software to sell to third-party car-makers.

Volvo and Uber have together committed a total of $US300 million ($A393m) to the project.

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