Self-Driving Ubers Had 37 Accidents Before Fatal Crash

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An investigation concluded the self-driving Uber that killed a pedestrian had "software flaws."

It's been over a year and a half since a self-driving Volvo XC90 Uber taxi struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, resulting in safety concerns about the self-driving car industry. Uber suspended all testing and did not resume until December in Pennsylvania with revised software and new restrictions and safeguards to improve safety.

This wasn't the first time a self-driving Uber has caused an accident, however. Reuters reports that an investigation carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board found that Uber's autonomous test vehicles were involved in as many as 37 accidents in the 18 months before the fatal crash. The vehicle that killed the pedestrian was also said to have "software flaws" as it failed to detect the pedestrian crossing the street.

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According to the report, there were at least two other crashes involving self-driving Uber test vehicles that may have failed to identify road hazards and react accordingly. Between September 2016 and March 2018, there were 37 crashes involving Uber vehicles in autonomous mode. 33 of those involved another vehicle striking test vehicles.

In one incident, a test vehicle struck a bent bicycle lane post , while another involved a vehicle entering the same lane as the self-driving test vehicle, causing the Uber driver to take over control and hit a parked car.

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In the accident, the test vehicle failed to identify the pedestrian walking across the street with a bicycle as an imminent collision until 1.2 seconds before impact. As a result, it was too late for the Uber car to avoid the crash. "The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians," NTSB said.

Back in March, prosecutors said Uber was not criminally liable in the self-driving crash. However, police have said the crash was "entirely avoidable" and that the distracted backup driver was watching 'The Voice' TV show when the crash happened.

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