What are companies willing to sacrifice to be groundbreaking, set trends, or simply cash in on the almighty dollar? The answer: everything. This past March, one of Uber’s self-driving cars failed to stop, hitting a pedestrian, and taking their life. As a result, Uber stopped all testing on its self-driving project until the problems had been solved.
It’s just been revealed, thanks to a whistleblower, the company’s elite knew of the glitches in their matrix five days before the crash and decided to press ahead with their autonomous driving plans.
The revelation came from an exclusive report given by The Information that published an internal email from March 13th. Sent by a from a then-employee Robbie Miller, it was addressed to higher-ups Jon Thomason, Eric Meyhofer, several on-staff lawyers, and a few more ego-centered executives, detailing concerns over failed self-driving cars they were testing.
This is not how we should be operating, the assertions of which have been backed up by interviews with current and former Uber employees. (Uber needs to) work on establishing a culture rooted in safety.
Apparently, Miller never received a response from his warning about the malfunctions, and five days later an innocent life was taken. This blind-eye mentality caused death and the entire board should be held accountable. Rather than doing what was right, or even what was legal, they ignored the impending tragedy and moved ahead with what they knew would result in harm.
An incident in Pittsburgh, where one self-driving vehicle veered onto the sidewalk and continued to drive, prompted Miller’s letter. Another question this raises is if it happened in Pittsburgh, what else happened that we don’t know about?
But don’t worry, the slick-tongued team over at Uber crafted a truly detailed and telling statement.
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.
The Uber Team
This general, cowardly, and piss-poor statement means nothing. Their recent move to hire Nat Beuse, the former member of the NHTSA who oversaw vehicle safety research, is not indicative of a culture change. It’s a side-step behind a shield to portray empathy and understanding.
I wish this would result in sweeping changes to the company that sets a tone for others to adhere to, but history tells us it won’t. Pissants like Jon Thomason and Eric Meyhofer will get buyouts, Uber will do yet another rebranding, and the story will fade behind the shadows of the Kardashians somewhere.
Maybe it’s time to take a lesson from the French.