Report: Uber knew of problems with self-driving cars before fatal crash

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(Source: National Transportation Safety Board) (Source: National Transportation Safety Board)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The New York Times is reporting that Uber knew of problems with its self-driving cars for months, before a collision that killed a pedestrian in Tempe on Sunday night.

[READ MORE: NTSB team is in Tempe investigating self-driving Uber wreck that killed pedestrian]

The Times reports that its reporters had reviewed 100 pages of internal Uber documents that showed the "cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles" and "Uber's human drivers had to intervene far more frequently" than their competitors.

The article states that Waymo's cars "went an average of nearly 56-hundred miles" before drivers had to take over to avoid trouble. "Uber was struggling to meet its target of 13 miles between intervention" in Arizona, according to the article.

[RAW VIDEO: Uber video from self-driving SUV just before fatal wreck]

Arizona's Governor Doug Ducey has been a champion of the self-driving car industry. He has touted Arizona's few regulations in his efforts to lure the companies to Arizona from California. His efforts have been successful, as there are more than 600 self-driving cars being tested on streets in the Phoenix area.

But while California requires self-driving car companies to report problems they are having, Arizona has no such requirements. So state transportation officials would not have known about Uber's problems.

The cause of Sunday's collision, which killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, is under investigation.

[RELATED: Investigators recreate fatal crash involving self-driving Uber vehicle]

A spokesperson for Uber emailed a statement to CBS 5 Investigates, which reads:

"We recognize our responsibility to contribute to safety in our communities and believe that technology has the power to make transportation safer than ever before. So as we develop self-driving technology, safety is our primary concern every step of the way. We’re heartbroken by what happened this week, and our cars remain grounded. We continue to assist investigators in any way we can."

Gov. Ducey's office had not responded to an email requesting comment at the time this article was published Friday night.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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