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An Uber autonomous SUV was involved in a three-vehicle collision in Tempe on March 24, 2017. Wochit
Uber will return its self-driving cars to roads in Tempe today following an accident Friday that prompted the ride-hailing company to temporarily "ground" its fleet of Volvo SUVs.
On Friday, a driver in Tempe was cited for making an illegal left turn and hitting one of Uber's test cars, which was in self-driving mode with a test driver behind the wheel and another in the passenger seat. The Uber car ended up on its side, and a third car was struck. Nobody was seriously injured.
Uber temporarily halted the program to investigate the accident and gain a better understanding of what happened, but a spokesperson said Monday the company will redeploy its fleet here and in Pittsburgh, where it also is testing.
Uber brought its fleet of self-driving cars to Arizona amid much fanfare last year following a dispute with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which requires companies operating self-driving cars to report on their operations. Arizona has no rules specific to self-driving cars.
The vehicles use a combination of cameras, lidar and other sensors to guide them, though all self-driving cars operating in Arizona today have test drivers behind the wheel to take control if needed.
Indications are Uber is far behind rival Waymo in developing driverless cars. The two are involved in litigation regarding the technology.
Waymo, formerly known as Google's Self Driving Car Project, was involved in three crashes last year in Chandler, but did not stop its vehicle testing.
The California DMV reports include figures on how frequently the drivers must take control of the cars.
Waymo drives its cars in California an average of 5,000 miles before a human driver is required to take over and handle an unusual traffic situation, according to its 2016 report to the California DMV.
Waymo's figures are exponentially better than Ford, Tesla, Nissan and other companies with similar reports filed at the California DMV; however, each company may define the disengagements differently according to how their cars work.
Even though Uber has returned some cars to California, it has not yet reported on their operations.
However, some of its internal documents reportedly leaked to the media show the Uber vehicles tested in Arizona only traveling about 200 miles on average before needing a driver to take over, and only about 2 miles between unpleasant braking or jerking.
Uber officials declined to comment on the figures Monday.
Tempe and Chandler have become the latest hot spots in a tech trend that aims to change commutes across the globe: self-driving cars. Wochit