Uber aims to restart self-driving vehicle tests in Pittsburgh this summer

Uber said it planned to continue talking with Ducey and was committed to Arizona.

As we previously reported, one of Uber's autonomous Volvo XC90 test vehicles struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across the road. California recently issued regulations allowing companies to start testing cars that don't require a backup human driver behind the wheel, despite numerous reports that the current fleet of self-driving cars under development frequently struggle with road conditions.

While some reports last fall suggested Khosrowshahi was thinking twice about pursuing proprietary self-driving tech, he has since recommitted despite a protracted and costly lawsuit from self-driving rival Waymo, the Google autonomous auto project that has been testing since 2009 and has an expansive program in Arizona.

However, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he was not aware of Uber's announcement to resume testing this summer until he saw it on social media. Former NTSB chairman Christopher Hart has also been brought aboard to advise on Uber's overall safety culture.

Now, it seems Uber is avoiding the risk of a fatal collision entirely by shutting down their Arizona operations until further notice, though an internal memo claims the shut down is not necessarily permanent. Uber had argued that state laws did not apply to its self-driving program, but its defiance was met with threats of legal action from the DMV and the state attorney general.

Uber is offering its terminated employees outplacement services to help them find new jobs.

According to The Arizona Republic, more than 200 workers in the self-driving program were notified that they were being let go this morning.

Testing had also been halted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California, but was set to resume in Pittsburgh. It was the first known fatality involving a fully autonomous vehicle, and a black eye for the industry. Herzberg was reportedly outside of a crosswalk when the Uber self-driving vehicle hit her.

It was Ducey who shortly after taking office in 2015 declared Arizona to be a haven for testing autonomous vehicles, free of the kind of restrictions and oversight that other states were imposing.

Toronto is only one of several Ontario cities that are hosting limited tests of increasingly autonomous vehicles being conducted by several companies in what's being promoted as the next major step in automotive technology. The outlet reports that the sensors worked, but the failure to swiftly react was due to how it was tuned at the time of the crash. At the time, Khosrowshahi did not specify where the autonomous vehicles would return to the roads, and he did not hint at closing Uber's autonomous vehicle research in Arizona.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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