- Uber’s autonomous vehicle kills a pedestrian in Arizona.
- Waymo, Google’s self-running car service, further expands its business.
Smart gadgets have been around for some time now. Subsequently, people are looking into further innovation towards larger machines now, like motor vehicles. Some of the people who share this view are Uber executives. They believe that vehicles that are able to run on their own is crucial to the future of the firm. They almost succeeded, too. However, the accident in Tempe, Arizona evidently shows us that we are not ready for it yet.
The accident involves an Uber self-driving car and a pedestrian. According to police reports, the Uber vehicle was running on its own when it a lady was crossing the same street with her bicycle. Unfortunately for both parties, one more than the other, the car did not come to a halt in time to avoid causing the death of the woman. Investigators continue to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the accident. Nonetheless, due to such unfortunate occurrence, these vehicles have been recalled and pulled back by Uber from its testing locations. These include Toronto, Pittsburgh, Arizona and California.
At the same time, Uber was renewing its license for self-run car testing in California and subsequently put off the request. On top of that, the governor of Arizona revoked all autonomous vehicles from being on the state roads a week later.
Two years ago, Uber had procured Otto, an autonomous truck company. The founders of Otto – Lior Ron and Anthony Levandowski – have previously worked for Google, and they sold Otto half a year after leaving Google. Ron was the head of Uber Freight, a truck cargo booking service. Uber Freight does not utilize the firm’s self-driving trucks for the most part. He has, apparently, left the firm altogether on Wednesday, as brought to us by CNBC.
The timing is no doubt suspicious, as Ron left shortly after the accident in Arizona. Matt Kallman, a representative of Uber, has stood out to clarify that these two incidents should not be associated in any way. However, Kallman has not given an explanation as to why Ron has chosen to take a step back from the team at this precise moment.
While it may seem like Uber is just now experiencing undesirable problems, however, they have been facing other problems prior to the accident in Arizona. The vehicles owned by the firm had difficulty in living up to the potential internal development technology-wise. They were not able to compete in a market that is constantly improving and upgrading itself.
Waymo is another autonomous motor vehicle business produced by Google. They have filed an official lawsuit against Uber and Otto previously. Levandowski has been accused of the theft of important technology strategies and was assumed to be collaborating with Uber to do so.
Ron also played a crucial role in the case. He was brought up several times by Waymo while they were attempting to indict Levandowski. Levandowski was one of the main engineers of Google who contributed to the initialization of Waymo at that time. He was accused of the theft of trade secrets. While Ron is not technically an engineer, he possesses a solid business development experience and was said to be working alongside Levandowski.
In May, Levandowski was let go by Uber because of his refusal to provide cooperation in handling the legal issue with Waymo. Just last month, the two firms have come to an agreement and the case was closed.
Recently, Waymo has been moving forward at a brisk pace. They are allegedly in the process to procure about twenty thousand electric cars from Jaguar Land Rover in order to further expand their business. In the meantime, Uber seems to be moving backward, with the testing coming to a halt. Uber was already falling behind to begin with, unable to meet the market conditions. It seems that this situation will remain unchanged for the time being.
What is Uber’s next move? What led to the current situation?
Featured image via flickr/ Jason Lawrence