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Ford-backed self-driving car in crash that sent two to hospital

Ford exhibited self-driving delivery vehicle at CES 2018 this week. The vehicle was a modified Ford Fusion, the same model involved in the Pittsburgh crash.
Ford exhibited aself-driving delivery vehicle at CES 2018 this week – a modified Fusion, the same model involved in the Pittsburgh crash. Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP

A self-driving test car from Ford-backed startup Argo was involved in an accident on Wednesday that sent two people to hospital.

The car, a modified Ford Fusion, was struck by a box van running a red light in the East Allegheny area of Pittsburgh. The collision smashed in the doors on the passenger side and blew out the back window, according to local reports.

A Pittsburgh city spokesperson said two of the four occupants of the vehicle were injured and transported to hospital in a stable condition before being released later on Wednesday.

“We’re aware that an Argo AI test vehicle was involved in an accident. We’re gathering all the information. Our initial focus is on making sure that everyone involved is safe,” a Ford spokesperson said in a statement.

It is not yet known whether charges will be filed against the driver of the box van, or whether the Argo car was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident. Ford declined to comment on whether further testing would be suspended, but its team were involved in exhibiting self-driving technology at CES in Las Vegas this week, including an autonomous pizza delivery vehicle made in partnership with Dominos.

Ford invested $1bn into Pittsburgh-based startup Argo AI in February 2016 with plans for creating the self-driving technology to drive the automotive company’s autonomous vehicles.

The crash happened less than a mile away from Argo AI’s headquarters.

Accidents involving self-driving cars have so far been relatively minor, with few producing injuries requiring hospital treatment. A test driver for Google’s self-driving car voluntarily went to hospital after a collision in September 2016, but most incidents, such as the self-driving bus crash in Las Vegas in November, are not much more than fender benders.

This isn’t the first incident involving autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, as the city has stepped up efforts to promote self-driving car research. In September, an Uber self-driving Volvo XC90, which was being driven by a human at the time, was involved in an accident, grounding the firm’s autonomous testing for several hours.

This article titled "Ford-backed self-driving car in crash that sent two to hospital" was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 11 January 2018 12.43pm

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