Uber is halting its self-driving program in Arizona following a crash involving one of its Volvo XC90 SUVs, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement given to Bloomberg. The traffic accident occurred in Tempe earlier this week and initial photos from the scene suggested it was rather severe in nature, but local police later confirmed no one was seriously injured in the crash. The report also reveals that Uber's self-driving vehicle wasn't at fault for the accident as it had the right of way at the intersection where the incident occurred. Regardless, the ride-hailing company opted to suspend all of its self-driving tests in Arizona and even halted its related operations in Pittsburgh until it conducts a detailed investigation into the matter, an Uber spokesperson revealed. It's currently unclear how long Uber's probe will take to be completed, but an update on the situation will likely follow shortly.
Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler confirmed that the vehicle involved in the crash wasn't carrying any passengers, which was a possibility given how the company's autonomous fleet started picking up riders in Arizona last month. Two of the firm's engineers were in the XC90 SUV that ended up being flipped on its side as a result of the crash, though it's still unknown whether either person controlled the vehicle or if the car was operating on its own. Uber's decision to halt its self-driving program across the country in response to the crash might suggest that the XC90 was driving on its own and while it wasn't responsible for the incident, the company may be investigating whether the car could have still somehow avoided the impact or at least reduced its severity.
The traffic accident in Tempe is yet another obstacle Uber will have to overcome to realize its self-driving ambitions. The company's autonomous driving unit has lately been under increased scrutiny from the general public following its conflicts with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) over testing permits, as well as a lawsuit filed against it by Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving division that alleged Uber stole its trade secrets. With the departure of Uber's President Jeff Jones and Vice President of Mapping Amit Singhal, the company decided to search for a Chief Operating Officer who it hopes will help CEO Travis Kalanick lead Uber through these troublesome times.