Uber has plans to reintroduce their self-driving car testing, hoping to adopt a more cautious approach on a smaller scale. The company, known for their aggressive business decisions, is being more conservative after a fatal accident involving an autonomous car striking a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ in March.
Company spokeswoman Sarah Abboud announced that they would resume testing on a mile-long loop in Pittsburgh, PA between two company offices. This is pending approval from the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation.
The resumption of this testing on autonomous cars would mark the first tests since the accident in Tempe after which Uber suspended all self-driving car testing under fire from the public.
In the past, Uber’s autonomous car testing was on a much larger scale, testing after dark in large fleets, but they are shrinking the operation now in favor of being more cautious.
Two passengers will sit in the front two seats as backup drivers, as opposed to just one which had been the norm for Uber before the Tempe accident. They also do not plan to continue picking up passengers in these self-driving vehicles.
Resuming testing is a very crucial business decision for Uber. They have a deal in place with Volvo to purchase 24,000 autonomous vehicles, meanwhile Toyota recently invested $500 million in Uber to help develop their self-driving car programs.
Uber had pledged to resume autonomous car testing this past summer in Pittsburgh, but were unable to after facing immense pressure from regulators and an internal review of safety practices.
In November, Uber had released an updated safety report outlining several of their proposed changes to their approach. These include improving cars’ ability to detect and react to objects on the road as well as installing an automatic braking system.
The National Transportation Safety Board has an ongoing investigation into the Tempe accident, the results of which are expected in a major report next year.