Uber’s bosses were warned that its self-drive cars were involved in multiple crashes, only days before one killed a pedestrian, an employee leaked email has revealed.
Robbie Miller, operations manager for Uber’s self-driving trucks, wrote to the firm’s top executives saying the cars were “routinely in accidents”.
This was partly down to faults with the technology and partly because of the “poor behaviour” of operators, he said.
Uber has yet to respond to the revelations.
However, it told news and information website The Information in a statement: “Right now the entire team is focused on safely and responsibly returning to the road in self-driving mode.
“We have every confidence in the work that the team is doing to get us there.
“Our team remains committed to implementing key safety improvements, and we intend to resume on-the-road self-driving testing only when these improvements have been implemented and we have received authorisation from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.”
Miller’s email was sent to the head of Uber’s autonomous vehicle unit, Eric Meyhofer, six other executives and lawyers.
Several of the drivers were not “properly vetted or trained”, he wrote.
It was sent on 13 March, only days before a fatal collision in Tempe, Arizona in which an autonomous Uber car hit and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg.
Uber suspended all its tests following the accident, which is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
In June it was revealed that the safety operator of the car was watching TV just before the accident.
In his email, Miller wrote: “The cars are routinely in accidents resulting in damage. This is usually the result of poor behaviour of the operator or the AV (autonomous vehicle) technology.
“A car was damaged nearly every other day in February. We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles.”