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Uber's fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh back on road after South Side crash

Aaron Aupperlee
| Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 10:42 a.m.
One of Uber's self-driving Volvos was spotted in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.
Ardavan Bidgoli
One of Uber's self-driving Volvos was spotted in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood.

Uber grounded its fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh for a few hours Monday morning as the company investigated a crash involving one of its vehicles.

Few details regarding Uber's move to ground its fleet and the company's decision to put it back on the road are available.

“We concluded our internal investigation into this morning's incident and have resumed our self-driving testing and passenger operations in Pittsburgh,” an Uber spokesman told the Tribune-Review.

The spokesman said there were no serious injuries and that only Uber employees were in the self-driving SUV at the time of the crash.

The crash happened at 8:14 a.m. near the intersection of Sidney and Hot Metal streets on the South Side, according to Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

Toler confirmed that no one was injured and said the driver of Uber's Volvo XC90 was in full control of the SUV at the time of the crash.

A black Nissan Sentra was driving west on Sidney Street when it collided with Uber's SUV, which had been traveling south on Hot Metal Street.

Toler did not say if police had determined who was at fault in the crash. Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

Uber's fleet returned to the streets at 11 a.m., the company spokesman said.

Chris Scorsone drove by the scene shortly after the crash happened. He said neither car had extensive damage, and he compared it to a fender bender. Scorsone said it appeared to him that the Nissan tried to make a left turn in front of the Uber vehicle.

Scorsone also said he noticed that the tow truck called to carry away the SUV had an Uber sticker in the windshield, similar to the ones regular Uber drivers put inside their windshields. Scorsone wondered if Uber has its own fleet of tow trucks to service its self-driving vehicles.

Uber grounded its fleet nationwide for about 48 hours in March after a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a crash in Tempe, Ariz. Police determined that Uber was not at fault in that crash.

Uber last week celebrated the one-year anniversary of its self-driving car pilot program in Pittsburgh. The company, whose Advanced Technology Group is based in Pittsburgh, reported that its more than 200 self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, Tempe and San Francisco have driven more than 1 million miles and have provided more than 30,000 rides to customers.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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