Will continue developing self-driving tech elsewhere
In the wake of a crash that killed an Arizona woman in March, Uber has announced it is shutting down its autonomous vehicle testing operations in the Grand Canyon State. The company will continue work on self-driving tech at other locations, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and two California cities—possibly San Francisco and Sacramento, where it is seeking permits.
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. A video of the March 18 accident seemed to show the car did not react to the pedestrian, and the safety operator behind the wheel was looking down just before the crash. Uber halted all autonomous testing immediately following the accident, and not long after that Arizona governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s license to test self-driving cars in the state indefinitely.
Uber had moved its autonomous testing operations to Arizona after the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked its vehicle registrations in late 2016. That came in response to Uber conducting tests in San Francisco without the proper permits. At the time the move was announced, governor Ducey welcomed Uber with open arms.
Now, likely sensing it has worn out its welcome, Uber is packing up its Volvos and leaving town. Former employees of the self-driving program will be offered help in finding new jobs, according to an Uber spokeswoman. But the company is adamant that its work on autonomous vehicle tech will continue.
“We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the accident is still in progress, and Uber is waiting for a preliminary report from the agency before it continues testing autonomous cars on the road. Reuters says that report is expected within the next couple of weeks.