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The company, Uber, which began providing rides through its ride hailing app in 2009, has recently faced a series of scandals and the latest has surfaced this week. The company began testing autonomous cars in 2016, hoping to one day provide driverless rides to its customers. The testing has now come to a halt after a woman was involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona.

The woman was 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She suddenly stepped into the street without using a crosswalk and was hit by the Uber test car while it was driving in autonomous mode. A human monitor had been at the wheel during the accident. Police said it was so quick that he didn’t see her until it was too late. The woman was rushed to the hospital after the accident occurred, where she unfortunately died. The incident is currently being investigated to figure out what exactly went wrong. The chief of Uber tweeted, “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

Toyota, the Japanese automotive manufacturer, has halted their self-driving testing on public roads in North America after the Uber accident. A spokesman for the company said they were worried the accident has had an “emotional effect” on their test drivers.

A myriad of companies have been heavily investing in self-driving technology, marketing it as the way of the future and an opportunity to significantly reduce road accidents. More than 37,000 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2016 alone. Many states have jumped on the bandwagon and welcomed companies to test in their areas. Some people, however, believe the technology is being released onto public roads before it is ready.

The president and chief of the Center for Automotive Research has said the investigation on the accident needs to progress further before anyone can determine the cause or what exactly needs to be improved in the self-driving system. She said, “We need to be fair and look at all the data,” and continued, “But I don’t think anybody is taking this lightly. By far safety is the first concern.”

Difficult words

Hailing: To call or signal someone in order to get their attention.

Scandal: An action that is morally or legally wrong and angers the public.

Autonomous: Able to control itself.

Fatal: Able to kill someone or something.

Crosswalk: A designated place to cross the street.

Incident: Something that happens.

Halt: To stop something.

Myriad: A great number of things or people.

Jumping on the bandwagon: To join in on what others are doing.

Progress: To move forward.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Hailing A. Outrage
2. Scandal B. Deadly
3. Autonomous C. Crossing
4. Fatal D. Variety
5. Crosswalk E. Signal
6. Halt F. Event
7. Myriad G. Further
8. Incident H. Independent
9. Progress I.  Stop

True or False?

1. Uber is currently facing a scandal. T / F

2. The autonomous car testing has not stopped. T / F

3.  The woman cautiously stepped into the street. T / F

4. The woman was immediately taken to the hospital. T / F

5.  No other companies have halted their testing. T / F

6.  Some people think self-driving cars are being tested prematurely. T / F

7. The woman who was hit was a teenager. T / F

8. There was a person in the car when it hit the woman. T / F

9.  The accident happened in California. T / F

10. Many states support self-driving testing. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. autonomous / testing / company / 2016 / The / began / in / cars

2. involved / now / fatal / testing / accident / a / was / a / come / The / to / in / has / woman / halt / after

3. street / She / the / using / into / suddenly / without / a / crosswalk / stepped

4. The / to / went / being / wrong / is / exactly / incident / what / investigated / out / figure / currently

5. in / technology / been / investing / companies / have / myriad / self-driving / heavily / A / of

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

 Autonomous  Occurred Improved
 Scandals  Significantly  Hailing
 Halted  Bandwagon  Concern

The company, Uber, which began providing rides through its ride ____________ app in 2009, has recently faced a series of ___________ and the latest has surfaced this week. The company began testing autonomous cars in 2016, hoping to one day provide driverless rides to its customers. The testing has now come to halt after a woman was involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona.

The woman was 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She suddenly stepped into the street without using a crosswalk and was hit by the Uber test car while it was driving in _____________ mode. A human monitor had been at the wheel during the accident. Police said it was so quick that he didn’t see her until it was too late. The woman was rushed to the hospital after the accident ___________ , where she unfortunately died. The incident is currently being investigated to figure out what exactly went wrong. The chief of Uber tweeted, “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

Toyota, the Japanese automotive manufacturer, has ________ their self-driving testing on public roads in North America after the Uber accident. A spokesman for the company said they were worried the accident has had an “emotional effect” on their test drivers.

A myriad of companies have been heavily investing in self-driving technology, marketing it as the way of the future and an opportunity to _______________ reduce road accidents. More than 37,000 people died in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2016 alone. Many states have jumped on the _____________ and welcomed companies to test in their areas. Some people, however, believe the technology is being released onto public roads before it is ready.

The president and chief of the Center for Automotive Research has said the investigation on the accident needs to progress further before anyone can determine the cause or what exactly needs to be ____________ in the self-driving system. She said, “We need to be fair and look at all the data,” and continued, “But I don’t think anybody is taking this lightly. By far safety is the first _____________.”

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. Do you think self-driving cars are the future?
4. Who is at fault if a self-driving car causes a crash but there is a human operator?
5. What do you know about self-driving cars?
6. Are there any difficulties that self-driving cars would face in your country?
7. Would you buy a self-driving car?
8. Would you take a self-driving taxi?
9. What other everyday tasks should be automated?
10. Do you think self-driving technology will hurt jobs?
11. Are there any things that you don’t think should ever be automated?
12. How could you benefit from owning a self-driving car?
13. Would you trust a self-flying plane?
14. Some places have banned self-driving cars over job fears. Is this a good solution?
15. What is your favourite mode of travel?
16. Are there any ways that you would improve other forms of transport?
17. Do you think it will be illegal for a person to drive a car on the road in the future?
18. Should there be an equivalent to a driver’s license required when owning a self-driving car?
19. Should there be a limit to where self driving cars can go?
20. What would you like to ask the self-driving team at Uber?