Self Driving Uber Kills Woman in Arizona

A self-driving Uber struck a pedestrian walking outside of a crosswalk on Sunday, March 18th in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first reported fatal crash from an autonomous vehicle and pedestrian. Through a tweet, Uber responded to the crash.

Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018

Uber first began testing autonomous cars in California in 2016, but at the time the vehicles were very unsafe. They were often running red lights which caused quite a bit of uproar between state regulators and San Francisco based company, Uber. Since then, the company has been testing their self-driving cars in a few states. They did however suspend the vehicles in Arizona last year due to an accident.

The victim of the accident, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking outside of a crosswalk with her bicycle around 10 p.m. on Sunday when the accident occurred. The vehicle, a 2017 Volvo SUV was driving at about 40 mph and most likely didn’t even slow down as it approached Elaine. The operator of the Uber, 44 year old Rafael Vasquez has been cooperative and showed no signs of impairment at the time of the accident.

The self driving cars are meant to detect pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, this was not the first fatal crash of a self driving car, only the first involving a pedestrian. Tesla Motors had an accident
in 2016 involving a Model S driving full speed under the trailer of an 18-wheeler semi truck, killing the car’s operator.

Unfortunately, it seems this technology is not ready for use yet, as there have been many incidents with “self-driving” cars. This accident may cause an uproar for reform of the technology and laws surrounding it. Above all else, more testing needs to be done before this tech is readily available to everyone. Some worry the advancements were released too soon without enough regulations.

If perfected, self driving vehicles are easily going to be a part of the future. However, to get there, we need to ensure these vehicles are doing what they are essentially made for- to be better drivers than humans. Striking pedestrians and stopping in the middle of highways is not helping the case of the companies who want to hurry the expansion of this technology. Are we ready to embrace self-driving cars, or do we need to slow down the rush of technology to ensure they are completely safe?

Self-Driving With Uber

Autonomy is the way of the future. Uber’s self-driving trucks are on the forefront of autonomous self-driving vehicles for their customers. Uber’s customers can access the on demand shipping app, Uber Freight, to have these self-driving trucks transport their commercial cargo.

Trucking is the perfect industry for automation, given the fact automated trucks can remain on the highway for longer amounts of time than trucks driven by humans. After a year since Uber tested their self-driving trucks of 2,000 cases of Budweiser in Colorado, the company is advancing their autonomous trucks on the highways of Arizona.

The process of using Uber’s self-driving trucks involves both a human driven truck and a self-driven truck. The cargo is first loaded by a human driven truck where the cargo is taken to a transfer hub. The cargo is then loaded onto a long haul freight truck. The self-driving truck will transport the cargo for the longer portions of the trip. For the shorter portions of the trip, the cargo is handed off once again to a human driven truck.

Uber’s Advanced Technology Group is testing these self-driving trucks on their platform. The Uber Freight app handles connecting shippers with human drivers. The company is working to create a commercial system of connecting shippers and those needing items shipped similar to their ride-hailing app Uber.

In a video by Uber, which can be seen at https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/06/uber-self-driving-trucks-are-now-moving-cargo-for-uber-freight-customers/ there is a detailed depiction of the process of how these self-driving trucks transport cargo.

Because of these type of trucks, the nature of truck driver’s job may change. However, Uber expresses its goal is not to eliminate trucking jobs. Human drivers will still be needed to back up the trucks to a loading dock or direct the truck around busy industrial areas.

This is a major milestone for the ride-hailing company as they surge into the world of self-driving trucks. Their autonomous truck technology puts the company ahead of some of its competitors aspiring to do the same, such as Embark Trucking. It is great to see the progress a company like Uber is making in the self-driving truck business.

Self-Driving Cars and Delivery are Teaming up For a New Experience

Now more than ever, it’s become easier for people to get things delivered right to their doorstep. No longer do people have to go grocery shopping, hit up the mall, or even venture to a restaurant for food. It seems that society is loving the luxury of having things delivered right to their doorstep. This industry doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, in fact, it continues to grow. More and more of these “on demand” services are popping up, especially when it comes to food delivery.

Postmates is a relatively new app and website which allows you to order from popular restaurants throughout their city. Someone then picks up the order and delivers it right to your doorstep. You don’t ever have to leave your house. Postmates is trying to compete with other big-name delivery services like UberEats and GrubHub. Sometimes, they struggle. It seems, however, that help is on the way for them.

According to TechCrunch, Postmates is now partnering with Ford to test out a self-driving delivery service. It’s great news for both companies. This delivery service will help Postmates make a name for itself, get deliveries out quicker and easier, and more. There is even talk that brick-and-mortar restaurant locations could benefit from this service too. The platform is set to be launched later this year.

This program will allow Postmates and Ford integrate together to see how everything from user interface to customer experience will play out. The ultimate goal is that a pristine on-demand delivery service stems from this. This won’t be the last partnership between the two. If all goes off without a hitch, there will be more to come. So is this the future of delivery and technology? It definitely seems so. With more self-driving cars being tested it was only a matter of time until the delivery services got in on this. There are still a lot of questions floating around this partnership and many who order delivery wonder how things will change for them. Will there be a price increase? A longer or shorter wait time? It will be interesting to see. In the meantime, Ford will continue to own and operate its own fleet of self-driving vehicles but they will continue these partnerships to see how they can better serve society.

Ford Latest Car Company To Invest In Self-Driving Tech

Google might be getting the most headlines when it comes to self-driving cars, but Ford apparently wants to join the party. The Motley Fool reports Ford has joined forces with the Chinese search-engine giant, Baidu to invest more than $150 million in a maker of sensors that are going to be critical to self-driving cars.

This investment represents a doubling down by Ford in Silicon Valley. While the firm has long been known as one of the largest automotive makers in the world, it is going to great lengths to be more recognizable in the tech world. As part of the investment in this particular technology, the company has said it is going to be expanding its Palo Alto, California research center.

This expansion is going to entail adding two new buildings to the facility and will also ramp up the number of employees that are working there. Right now, Ford has about 130 people working there, and the firm announced on Tuesday it was going to expanding its employee roll to more than 260 workers.

The company Ford and Baidu are investing in is known as Velodyne which specializes in the LiDAR sensor. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it uses lasers to construct rather highly detailed maps of the car’s surroundings. This kind of sensor is expected to be a very big deal when cars that are driving themselves become something that is quite a bit more prevalent.

Until very recently, these sensors were considered far too expensive to put out on the mass market. Outside investors like Ford are going to be working to drive the production cost down. Now only is this a big time investment in a burgeoning technology, but it is a real step forward in the self-driving car market.

Velodyne has already been working on coming up with a new version of the sensor that is cheaper to make, while still being the same quality level. These smaller sensors are called “Pucks” because of their size and shape. Those Pucks were most recently shown off earlier this year at the annual CES.

Ford’s Palo Alto facility has long been focusing on self-driving car technology, and these moves show the company is getting ready to go all in on the tech.