After an accident in March involving a self-driving Uber killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, Uber suspended all testing of autonomous cars. However, in November, Uber requested to resume their testing of autonomous cars in Pennsylvania using a public safety report they compiled.
In their efforts to improve safety, Uber enclosed details of how they plan to continue testing with manually driven cars that also have self-driving features. The vehicles will be driven with two employees in the driver’ and passengers’ seats and will assess the driving quality through real-time third party monitoring.
After the crash in March, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who had previously been very supportive of autonomous car testing, suspended all testing of self-driving cars. The crash was the first incident of a fatal accident involving an autonomous car.
“We are supportive of self-driving technology, however, safety is a very important aspect,” street transportation spokesperson for Phoenix Monica Hernandez said. “People’s safety should be the number one priority, always.”
In a public statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that the transition to self-driving cars will take time and will be difficult. He also said that it would not be possible without testing on public roads.
“I think that compared to others, Uber was doing a good job,” Ashraf Gaffar, an assistant professor Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering said. “Where people get into trouble is in in trusting the vehicles too much.”
Gaffar also believes that financial incentives in order to gain more profits could lead to companies cutting corners and therefore cutting certain safety features.
While the dangers of self-driving cars were seen in March, there is clearly room for improvement, and Uber is trying to improve in any way they can. Only time will tell if they will continue to practice what they are preaching in order to create safer streets and highways.