03 November 2018

Lawyers report on Uber self-driving safety issues

Improved processes and more training required

LeClairRyan, the American law firm, has conducted an independent safety review of the existing safety policies, processes, procedures and culture of Advanced Technologies Group, the entity that has responsibility for Uber’s self-driving vehicle program.  The LeClairRyan report was made publicly available on 30 October.

Safety

Uber commissioned the LeClairRyan report after a pedestrian suffered fatal injuries in consequence of being hit by an ATG self-driving vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, in March 2018.  The American National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has been seperately investigating Uber’s safety practices. NTSB issued its preliminary report on 04 October.

LeClairRyan recommendations

The LeClairRyan report recommends that Uber take inspiration from the safety systems in the aviation, nuclear energy and maritime industries. But the law firm also noted that  “ … [t]he combination of the need for real-world testing and the challenge of humans adequately monitoring very reliable systems is a scenario with very little precedent.”

Uber self-assessment

Uber has also now published its own safety self-assessment report, entitled ‘A Principles Approach to Safety’.  In this report Uber acknowledges shortcomings that contributed to the fatal crash in Arizona. Uber also pledges to make a number of changes to its self-driving car program.

A safety self-assessment report is recommended - but not required - by NTSB.