Uber’s Arizona Crash Highlights Need for Company to Accept Responsibility When Robot Driving Technology Fails, Consumer Watchdog says

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SANTA MONICA, CA – A crash involving an Uber robot car in Arizona shows the need for Uber to take the Safe Autonomous Vehicles (SAVe) Campaign pledge and agree to accept responsibility when one of its self-driving cars causes a crash, Consume Watchdog said today.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group also called on Uber to release all video and technical details related to the Friday crash.

In December Consumer Watchdog led the fight against Uber’s illegal testing of robot cars in San Francisco without the required permits.  The cars were seen driving through red lights. When the Department of Motor vehicles revoked the robot cars’ registrations, Uber moved them to Arizona, where there are no testing regulations.

“Companies like Uber are using our public roads as their private laboratories,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director. “There must be complete transparency and accountability about what they are doing, which clearly can threaten public safety.”

Earlier this month the SAVe Campaign asked eighteen automakers and developers of self-driving cars, including Uber, to take responsibility for failures in their automated and autonomous vehicle technology. Only Volvo accepted the challenge and agreed to accept responsibility for their robot cars at some levels of automation.

Tempe, Az. police ticketed the driver of the other vehicle in the Uber crash.  Nonetheless, Consumer Watchdog said, the incident raised the question of who is at fault when a robot car causes a crash.

Consumer Watchdog said that while the driver of the other vehicle may have technically been at fault in the Arizona Uber crash, it could well be the case that the robot vehicle did not behave as a human-driven car would have, contributing to the crash.

“Self-driving car manufactures and developers must accept responsibility when their automated and autonomous technologies fail,” said Simpson.  “If Uber is finally serious about becoming a responsible corporate citizen, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick must take the SAVe pledge immediately.”

“The interaction between robot cars and human-driven cars is an area of serious concern and requires research,” said Simpson.  “That’s why all the data about crashes must be made public.”

Uber has finally received permits to test in California.  It will be required to file public crash reports when an incident occurs and annual disengagement reports detailing when the robot technology fails. The reports are posted to the DMV website.


Visit Consumer Watchdog’s website at:

Visit the Safe Autonomous Vehicle (SAVE) Campaign website and read about the pledge at:

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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