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?

Uber Patents Illuminated Taxi Sign

Uber is a company you’ve probably heard of by now. Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanik, this transportation network company has boomed in popularity within the past eight years and has expanded to various countries around the globe. Uber allows insured drivers 21 years of age or older to become new-age taxi drivers and turn their vehicles into money-making machines. With a simple app, customers can quickly summon a nearby driver and often for a fraction of what traditional taxicabs would charge.


For the most part, this company has risen to success quite smoothly, although there has been some criticism. One of the most common complaints customers report is that it is difficult to find the correct vehicle. While the app does show a picture of your driver as well as the make and model of your Uber vehicle, it is admittedly much easier to spot a yellow taxi-cab than a normal, neutral-colored sedan. That’s why Uber has recently unveiled its new patent for an attachable illuminated sign.


The design is sleek and, most importantly, eye-catching. The light-up sign will ensure that Uber customers can find the correct vehicle night and day, and will enhance the overall safety of customers worldwide. A diagram of the newly released patent can be found over at Techcrunch, which exhibits its thin and elongated shape.


While illuminated signs that attach to the tops of vehicles isn’t exactly groundbreaking technology, Uber obviously wants its fleet to stand out from pizza drivers and other competition. Its founder chose Yves Behar to create the model, an award-winning designer who has done work for major tech companies such as Samsung, GE, Kodak, and many others. Uber’s attention to detail showcases their commitment to quality, safety, and customer satisfaction.


How Technology is Making Uber Safer

For some commuters, Uber is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. If you don’t drive often, it’s easy to understand why someone might want to avoid a car payment. However, rideshare companies are not regulated the way taxi companies are and these concerns have prompted the company to make some changes. Since Uber is an app-based service, the driver’s and passenger’s phones are central to their safety efforts.

Drivers in 11 different cities will soon get to test some new safety features that revolve around what Uber refers to as the “four D’s.” These include driving while drunk, drugged, drowsy or distracted.

First of all, every ride is tracked from start to finish. This is accomplished via sensors on the phone that provide GPS, acceleration and gyroscopic data. Not only does this data make it harder for a driver to get lost, but it will also be used to remind him to put his phone back in the mount if movement is detected.

If a driver has been driving too long, a reminder will be sent to the driver to get some sleep. As of early 2016, Uber drivers are not allowed to use the app for more than 12 hours at a time. Previously, some drivers were known to work for more than 16 hours.

Daily reports provide drivers with information that can help them improve their driving, such as data showing excessive braking or acceleration patterns. The app even includes a speed display to make sure they know how fast they’re going at any given time.

Uber has also released new data to show what their impact has been on drunk driving. In many cities, they have become the leading transportation alternative for people who have had too much to drink. Studies show that drunk driving has declined significantly in cities where the company now operates.

Although this is a pilot program, the company’s goal is to make these features available in every city where they operate. When combined with other popular features such as their ratings system for both riders and drivers, Uber hopes to create a safer experience for everyone on the road. Thanks to modern technology, they’re setting a standard that was unheard of just a few short years ago.

Facebook Group Instead of Uber in Austin

A month ago today, Uber and Lyft paused their services in Austin, Texas for politically motivated reasons. This created a transportation void in the city as nearly a million residents around the area relied on those two companies. There was much speculation as to what solution would come along.

Initially, there were a few apps that sprung up to attempt to fill in the void left behind, but that only lasted so long. Eventually, something unexpected happened when an unregulated Facebook group evolved that was focused on providing the same services Uber and Lyft did, but in a peer-to-peer fashion, with no middle man.

The group is located here, and is has amassed over 30,000 members. More interestingly, though, is how the process works. People looking for a ride post a request with information such as a pickup location and destination and a desired time of transport. Almost instantaneously, drivers comment on the post with an ETA, estimated price, and contact phone number. Once a ride is confirmed, the initial post requesting a ride is removed, allowing future requests to settle at the top of the page.

There are however, some precautions being taken within the community. Drivers have been starting to advertise their services with pictures of their car, themselves, and an Uber or Lyft account, ensuring the safety of passengers and legitimacy of the operation.

While this production operates purely peer-to-peer, the group was initially started by an up-and-coming app called Arcade City.