Self-Driving Rideshare Accidents Attorney


Many rideshare companies have realized the potential for a fully autonomous taxi or ridehailing service. Even Tesla has proposed the idea of a shared fleet in their Master Plan – they posit that, since most cars are only used for about 5-10% of the day, car owner could use their vehicles as a source of income by lending it to a self-driving fleet of Tesla vehicles.

Indeed, other prominent ridesharing vehicles share similar sentiments. Here’s what the two most popular services, Lyft and Uber, have in store for the public.

Update: Arizona Residents Strike Out Against Driverless Vehicles After Fatal Self-Driving Uber Collision

Tensions between Arizona residents and driverless cars have risen after a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe last March. Hers was the second AV fatality in the United States, but the first involving a pedestrian. Since then, at least one other person has been killed in a collision involving a self-driving car.

Uber ceased its self-driving tests immediately following the March incident (the company plans to resume testing in Pennsylvania this year).  Waymo continued public testing without pause.

That decision was not without consequences. In the Phoenix area—where Waymo has been on the road since 2017—the company has reported more than two dozen attacks against its vehicles and employees. Just months after Herzberg’s death, a man waved a .22 caliber revolver at a Waymo van and its emergency backup driver. Other incidents include people slashing a Waymo van’s tires, throwing rocks at the vans, and trying to run the vehicles off the road.

Lyft and Its Open Platform

Lyft’s self-driving endeavors are still in development – they recently announced the opening of their self-driving division in July of 2017. Their approach to self-driving is unique, in that they’re proposing to be a middle man for other self-driving companies. Dubbed “Open Platform”, Lyft is leveraging its millions and miles of data to help other self-driving vehicle companies develop their systems. Here’s how it works:

  • Companies partner with Lyft to access their network of data, including real-world scenarios and detailed maps, for rapid learning.
  • Lyft gains access to their technologies to propel their company into a new era of autonomy, with seamless integration into their user interface for a consumer-friendly approach to self-driving.

Lyft hopes to launch self-driving rides by the end of the year, targeting Boston as its pilot city. Additionally, they’ve initiated partnerships with notable companies such as Waymo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and General Motors.

Uber ATG, Otto, and Self-Driving Tests

Compared to Lyft, Uber has had a considerable head-start in the autonomous vehicle industry. They founded the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) division in 2015, opening a center in Pittsburgh, PA dedicated to research and development of self-driving solutions. Hiring engineers from the renowned Robotic Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, their aim was to get fully autonomous vehicles on the road by August 2016. To jump-start progress, Uber acquired autonomous truck company Otto in August 2016, and eventually folded the company within Uber ATG to create one unified self-driving division.

Uber’s pilot fleet of autonomous vehicles hit the Pittsburgh roads in September 2016, and then embarked on metropolitan Phoenix roads a couple of months later in December 2016. While it was met with optimism and encouragement, unfortunately Uber’s testing has been rife with problems:

  • After debuting, self-driving Uber vehicles were spotted making major traffic mistakes, such as going the wrong way on one-way roads and getting into minor fender bender accidents.
  • While the number of miles driven autonomously has increased, the quality of rider experience has not. Data has shown a steady number of “bad experiences” that include jerky steering, hard braking, and other situations that would cause discomfort.
  • In March 2017, a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona was involved in a high-speed car crash in which the autonomous Volvo SUV flipped over.

Overall, data gathered suggests that not only is the safety of Uber’s self-driving cars in question, but they may have one of the most unsafe self-driving vehicles currently being tested. A report from March 2017 states that, although Uber’s vehicles drove 20,354 miles, a human driver had to disengage the self-driving nearly every mile.

Contact Us If You’re in an Uber Self-Driving Car Accident

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a serious car accident while in a self-driving vehicle, an Uber, or human-driven, we can help. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, & Schoenberger, we have a car injury team with a combined 60 years of legal experience recovering compensation and damages for our clients. Although the self-driving industry is in its infancy, we strive to stay up-to-date with the latest state and federal rules and regulations surrounding liability and the process surrounding damages. Gain the compensation you deserve for a ride that ended in disaster. Contact us at (415) 889-2919 for a free consultation.


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