Self-driving Uber software behaved like a human before crashing, suggests eye-witness

A self-driving car operated by Uber Technologies was involved in a crash in Arizona – the latest setback for a company reeling from multiple crises.

In a photo posted on Twitter, one of Uber’s Volvo self-driving SUVs was pictured on its side next to another car with dents and smashed windows. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the incident, and the veracity of the photo, in an email to Bloomberg News.

New details about the recent Arizona car crash involving a self-driving Uber have emerged, and suggest that the vehicle’s software may have made a risky decision seconds before the collision.

According to a police report, the self-driving Volvo had been travelling along a wide boulevard with a 40mph speed limit.  It was in self-driving mode at the time and was carrying two ‘safety’ drivers, who say it was travelling at 38mph.

The traffic lights that the Uber car was approaching turned amber as it entered an intersection, where a Honda on the other side of the road made a left turn.  The two vehicles collided, and the Uber was flipped onto its side.

The police report stated that the driver of the Honda hadn’t seen the oncoming Uber, and one of the people in the Uber, said a blind spot caused by traffic meant there was no time to react.

Police have said that the Uber car was not at fault, but an eye-witness claims otherwise.

“It was the other driver’s fault for trying to beat the light and hitting the gas so hard,” a witness told police in a statement, reports Bloomberg. “The other person just wanted to beat the light and kept going.”

According to a New York Times report from February, Uber’s driverless cars have “failed to recognise” six sets of traffic lights during San Francisco tests.  The company is currently trialling its system in Arizona, Pennsylvania and California.

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