A Volvo XC90 driving in autonomous mode was involved in a crash in Tempe, AZ.

Photo Credit: FRESCO NEWS / Mark Beach

An UBER XC90 equipped and operating in autonomous mode was involved in a three-way crash earlier last week in Tempe AZ. The crash has prompted UBER to suspend operations of its autonomous vehicle program in Tempe AZ (including Pittsburgh and San Francisco) until further data can be pored over and evaluated. According to Wired.com earlier Saturday ( Mar. 25, 2017)  the accident happened when the driver of the other vehicle “failed to yield” to the Volvo XC90 in autonomous mode while making a turn. Although the UBER had the right of way, this caused a collision between the two vehicles subsequently involving a third vehicle in the process. Check out some photos that hit social media showing the overturned Volvo XC90 below.

Furthermore, according to Tempe police, there were no passengers in the Volvo so no one was seriously hurt or injured in the collision.

UBER’s Volvo XC90 program has been operating in Tempe since December 2016 and has received rave reviews from city officials since the program’s inception. Unlike other more restrictive states for autonomous driving programs like California, Arizona seems to have an open door policy to new and innovative programs that aim to reduce injuries and fatalities connected to cars on the road.

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Back in August UBER initially announced a special partnership with Volvo to outfit exactly 100 of its newest Volvo XC90 SUV’s to handle the duties of autonomous driving. Although these Volvo’s would technically be driving themselves, for the meantime there will always be a driver at the wheel to maintain vehicle safety in the event something goes wrong as this case in Tempe illustrates. Both UBER and Volvo put more than $300 million on the table to make this pilot program a reality.

This latest incident has prompted comments from those against the idea of driverless cars to seriously evaluate just how safe driverless technology really is. Could a human driver at the wheel have avoided the crash altogether?

Autonomous driving is certainly past its infancy stages of development and is tested technology that needs time to mature. A perfect driving record from a technology implemented on roads where human drivers reign supreme is not to be expected, but in some ways it is. Perhaps the greater automotive press who live near these pilot programs should take some time to experience these technologies for themselves instead of highlighting the bad occurrences only.


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