Uber Was Reportedly Told Its Self-Driving Cars Were Unsafe Before Fatal Crash
Days before an Uber self-driving car was involved in a fatal accident that killed one pedestrian, an employee with the ride-hailing company warned his bosses that the cars were repeatedly involved in multiple crashes.
Robbie Miller, operations manager for Uber’s self-driving trucks, emailed top executives at Uber saying the vehicles were “routinely in accidents,” according to a report from the BBC. Miller’s email attributed the widespread accidents in part to poor technology and the “poor behaviour” of the cars’ backup safety operators. He also states in the email that those backup drivers were not “properly vetted or trained.”
“A car was damaged nearly every other day in February,” Miller’s email said. “We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles.”
The email was sent on March 13, just six days before a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was struck and killed by the car as she crossed the street outside of a crosswalk at night in Tempe, Arizona. Components of the crash seem to mirror what Miller warned about in his email. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash. But, preliminary reports have shown that a malfunction in the car’s sensors and software did not detect Herzberg as she crossed the street. Also, the backup safety operator of the vehicle, Rafaela Vasquez, was streaming a television show on a tablet device while driving.
The email was reportedly sent to Uber’s head of autonomous vehicles, Eric Meyhofer, as well as six other executives and lawyers, the BBC says. Uber says Miller’s manager responded with an email stating that the company’s leadership would look in the claims. The company also says it included the concerns from the email in a safety review after the Arizona crash occurred.
“Right now the entire team is focused on safely and responsibly returning to the road in self-driving mode,” an Uber spokesperson told TPG in an emailed statement. “We have every confidence in the work that the team is doing to get us there. Our team remains committed to implementing key safety improvements, and we intend to resume on-the-road self-driving testing only when these improvements have been implemented and we have received authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.”
Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle test operations in the wake of the accident.
Featured image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
*This post has been updated with Uber’s statement to TPG.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.