In the immediate aftermath of Uber’s first fatal accident involving a self-driving vehicle (which occurred in March of 2018), the San Francisco-based company appeared to be scaling back its broad autonomous vehicle ambitions. Indeed, Uber shut down its self-driving testing program after the fatal crash occurred in Tempe, Arizona.
However, it soon became clear that Uber’s plans to suspend self-driving testing would not last for long. Approximately four months after the fatal crash, Uber’s self-driving cars returned to public roads in Pittsburgh, which we covered in a July of 2018 blog post. Since Uber autonomous vehicles made their return to public roads, it has become increasingly apparent that the brand is doubling down on its ambitions for the self-driving sector. Recently, for example, Uber partnered with Toyota in a $500 million partnership that aims to deliver on a self-driving pilot program by 2021.
Now, it appears the next major investment toward Uber’s self-driving future comes by way of a $150 million investment for self-driving research in Toronto.
Uber Plans to Invest in Autonomous Research Hub
According to a CBC report, Uber will expand its Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) in Toronto to open a new engineering lab dedicated to furthering self-driving car research. As such, this new research hub will become the first in Canada for Uber, joining Uber’s existing research hubs in Pittsburgh, Phoenix and San Francisco.
This expenditure is, to be sure, a significant step toward Uber realizing its vision of providing safe and reliable self-driving transportation that is ready to operate on public roads. More importantly, this marks a sharp turn from rumors that swirled in August of 2017, which suggested newly-appointed Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi may sell off Uber’s self-driving division altogether. According to reports, he was persuaded to abandon a complete shuttering of the self-driving division once he observed the progress and strides made by Advanced Technologies Group in person.
Even so, questions remain as to whether Uber’s future will be largely reliant on self-driving since competition in the sector is fierce. Recently, our blog has also touched on the progress made by Waymo, which has plans to have a fully operational robotaxi service in Arizona in 2019. As such, Waymo certainly appears to be in the lead as the push toward self-driving continues in earnest, but these are still early days for the technology.
Uber’s latest partnerships and research investments could well pay off for the company’s long-term vision for autonomous vehicles. What does appear clear, however, is that, eventually, autonomous vehicles will become prevalent and revolutionize transportation. If and when this transportation shift toward self-driving occurs, it will also significantly affect personal injury law for victims of car accidents.
In all likelihood, a largely driverless future will shift accident compensation from being based on human negligence to product liability and similar legal concerns. It is important to stay current with these trends since, as the fatal Uber self-driving accident reminds us, real accident victims have already been affected by self-driving vehicles.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a self-driving vehicle, it is imperative that you protect your right to compensation by speaking with a self-driving accident lawyer at the nationally recognized Ledger Law Firm. Contact us online today for a free case evaluation to discuss your accident claim with a self-driving car accident attorney at Ledger Law.