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Robo-Uber T-boned, rolls onto side, self-driving rides halted

Autonomous car was not at fault, apparently

Uber self-driving car
One of Uber's self-driving cars

Uber's taken its nascent fleet of self-driving cars off the road after one rolled in an accident.

As shown in the Tweets below, an autonomous Uber Volvo found itself in an untenable position. Police in Tempe, Arizona, where the crash occurred say the Uber-mobile was struck by a car that failed to yield.

Uber-mobile t-boned, rolls onto side Autonomous car was not at fault, but Uber takes its fleet off the road regardless

Two Uber staff were in the car at the time of the incident to observe its progress in self-driving mode. Neither they nor the occupants of the car that failed to yield were seriously injured. Local media say the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident will be fined.

What we have here, therefore, is a an autonomous car taken out by an act of negligence. The autonomous car did not have the wits to avoid the accident, but that's often the case for humans confronted by a driver ignoring the road rules and therefore going beyond the bounds of the reasonably predictable. We also have a hefty Volvo sports utility vehicle on its side, a place no car belongs but one it is reasonable for a car to find itself after being T-boned.

There's no suggestion the Uber-mobile failed in any way, but the company has nonetheless pulled its autonomous fleet from the roads, at least in Arizona. The company's not explained why it's done so, other than to say it needs to investigate the incident. Whether the extra hardware Uber-mobiles use to drive themselves changed the aftermath of the crash therefore remains unknown. ®

Stop press: We're told Uber has resumed testing its self-driving rides.

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