Pennsylvania Lifts Uber’s Autonomous Vehicle Testing Ban

February 6, 2019

Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers discuss Uber's autonomous vehicle testing ban being lifted in Pennsylvania. Human error is frequently cited as the cause of most car accidents. However, for the ridesharing powerhouse Uber, this time it was software that caused a serious accident.

Though self-driving software is designed to eliminate everyday human error, just one glitch or hack can cause a severe accident, and could be the difference between life and death.

Uber, currently valued at $72 billion and expected to rise as high as to $120 billion in early 2019 as is goes public, has recently been granted permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to reinstate tests in Pittsburgh with its autonomous vehicles.

The company had previously halted such testing of its self-driving cars, following an accident in Tempe, Arizona in March 2018 that left a pedestrian dead.

The Fatal Accident in Arizona

It was found that an autonomous Uber SUV, though equipped with a back-up driver, was going northbound when it struck a pedestrian, who after being taken to the hospital succumbed to her injuries. Investigators had determined that the driver inside of the vehicle had checked his phone 204 times during a 43-minute test drive.

After the accident, Uber paused its autonomous vehicle testing in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Phoenix, and San Francisco. This was not the only accident for their self-driving cars, but was the first fatality.

Uber Releases Safety Report Detailing Improved Practices

Now that the state of Pennsylvania has given it the green light to begin this testing again, Uber has released a safety report that shares how it plans to test these self-driving cars more safely and cautiously. This now includes the requirement that two employees are in the front seats of the car at all times and are more closely monitored, and that an automatic braking system has been enabled.

The publication, The Information, reported that Uber spent $80 million on the self-driving car program in the second quarter of 2017 and $120 million in the second quarter of 2018.

Warnings Go Unanswered

Just one week prior to Pennsylvania giving Uber permission to resume its testing, The Information revealed that an “alarming” email had been sent by a manager in the testing-operations group to the head of Uber’s autonomous vehicle unit back in March 2018, which detailed safety concerns related to the vehicles.

The email expressed that “software powering the company’s prototype robotaxis was dangerous.” The fatal accident in Arizona occurred just five days later.

Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Those Who Have Been Injured in Autonomous Car Crashes

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, whether by a self-driving vehicle or otherwise, the effects can have a significant impact on your life in many ways. That is why it is so important to fight for what you deserve. The Delaware County car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. understand the extent to which you have been impacted, and your need for compensation. For a free consultation contact us online or call us at 610-565-3701 today.

From our offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area, including those in Delaware CountyChester County, and Montgomery County.