“Self driving #Uber spotted in the wild” flickr photo by ekai shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

     Uber’s self-driving cars are returning to public roads for the first time after the fatal crash. Uber has officially started its self-driving vehicles services on public roads. Nearly eight months ago, an Uber vehicle hit a woman as she was crossing a street in Tempe, Arizona street on a bicycle in the dark. Immediately following that incident, Uber halted testing its self-driving cars on public roads, but they haven’t announced any timeline for restarting the program yet.

another attempt

     This downsized version of Uber’s self-driving program has reflected the extent to which the company’s had to assess its grand plan once again to conquer transportation with robot taxis after the crash in Tempe. The self-driving Uber car was traveling to the north with one safety driver inside when it struck and hit 49-year-old lady while she was pushing her bicycle across the street. The driver was using the phone, streaming a television show at the time of the crash, and didn’t hit the brakes until after impact, according to the National Traffic Safety Board and local police. After this incident, The Company lost more than $1 billion in its most recent quarter.

Will they be able to prevent another incident?

     Uber is growing very fast, and is expected to make its start on Wall Street next year. But once again it seems like it is wildly unprofitable. There are some safety measurements that will be taken by Uber. The safety reviews highlight many amendments to the safety culture of Uber, some of which have been accomplished already:

  • Make security part of the selection and hiring process for those testing the vehicles
  • Create an unidentified reporting system for protection
  • Decrease latency in the independent driving system
  • Develop object classification and detection
  • Generate ambiguity throughout the system
  • Develop a constant set of protection performance metrics
  • Initiate the autonomous automatic emergency braking (AEB) system at all times
  • Organize a standalone examination team
  • Distribute the operational safety from the executive development team
  • Improve the vehicle operative role to a “profession expert” role
  • Implement means with third-party operator monitoring
  • Limit mission authorities to four hours in a day in the driver seat
  • Select a Responsibility and Safety Advisory Board

The next step

     The self-driving cars were expected to assist by cutting Uber’s losses by excluding the need for drivers, perhaps the company’s most significant expense was that they had a loss of 1 billion dollars. That is a substantial loss for any company. But expectations were very high of this technology.

     Some test drivers were worried that the Uber management was too aggressive. They complained against them, for example, that a software update had led to erratic driving by the cars, including once specifically when the vehicles started running red lights, two self-driving vehicle drivers stated.

     After the crash, Uber promised to maintain its self-driving cars off public roads until it could ensure they were safe. For this reason, the company issued a safety report of 70 pages and added more rigorous testing on closed tracks and in simulations. After these safety steps, the company will do retest, and after that, the company will resume the Uber self-driving program or service on public roads for passengers.

     Self-Driving cars are suppose to protect the people, not harm them. A simple accident like this will push this technology back further. How does this make you feel? In my opinion, they should take all of the time they need to get this right. Another incident like this could make it very costly not just for Uber, but for others as well. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think it would take to prevent something like this from happening again. 


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