Self-Driving Uber Car Crashes in Arizona

Paul Ausick

A self-driving Volvo SUV was involved in a traffic accident in Tempe, Arizona, on Friday. The car was one of a fleet of self-driving Volvos being tested by ride-hailing service Uber. No injuries have been reported as a result of the accident.

According to a report from Bloomberg, pictures of the accident (see below) suggest that this may have been a “relatively high-impact crash.”

Volvo, which is owned by China’s Geely, partnered with auto safety group Autoliv last year to develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for Volvo cars. Volvo also has a $300 million deal with Uber to develop self-driving cars.

A freelance news service called Fresco caught the scene of the Tempe accident:

According to a report in the Arizona Republic, another vehicle failed to yield while making a left turn onto Don Carlos Drive, colliding with the self-driving car. A third vehicle was hit by one of the first two, but no serious injuries were reported, according to police.

Tempe investigators also said it was unclear if the Uber car was driving itself at the time of the crash or if the operator was in control.

The crash caps a recent rough patch for the ride-hailing service. Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is suing Uber and self-driving truck startup Otto (owned by Uber) for allegedly stealing technology from Google’s Waymo self-driving car division. Uber is also being investigated for its use of a software tool to deny rides to officials who might be gathering data on self-driving cars.

Uber also recently has lost two top executives and, according to a report at Recode, at least 20 engineers have quit since November. Self-driving technology is a key to Uber’s long-term growth plans, and, as the Recode story details, things have not been going well.