Has the future arrived in the Phoenix metro area? Maybe. We know for certain that futuristic self-driving vehicles are now available for rides in Tempe. Uber has launched its fleet of autonomous Volvo SUVs with the blessing of Gov. Doug Ducey.
The ride-sharing company had Ducey as a passenger on the very first trip piloted by one of its self-driving vehicles. Some hail the experiment as a bold step forward that will eventually ease traffic congestion while making motorists safer. Others worry that the technology has been rushed to market and that it increases the risks of accidents and injuries.
If you call Uber for a lift in one of the specially outfitted vehicles, two of the company's engineers will be along for the ride, ready to take control if needed.
You might recall that Uber began its experiment in California late last year before balking at that state's demand that it provide details about all occasions in which humans had to take control of the SUVs. You might recall as well that one of Uber's Volvos was spotted running a red light on the first day of the test.
Online technology publication Verge says the difference with this latest launch of the self-driving fleet is Arizona's "do what you want" approach.
We do not yet know how Uber's experiment will fare, and much more important, how its passengers and the other motorists will fare. Will self-driving vehicles make us all safer? Or will the software piloting the vehicles have glitches or errors that result in traffic accidents and injuries?
We certainly hope that the company is right and that its SUVs will make their way around the Phoenix metro safely.
Accident injury victims can speak with an attorney experienced in helping you pursue maximum compensation for all damages.