Hopes to restart program elsewhere during the northern summer
Uber has decided to end tests of its autonomous vehicles in Arizona after a fatal crash there in March.
In an internal email written by Uber executive Eric Meyhofer, and published by Ars Technica, the company announced it will “wind down [autonomous vehicle] operations in Phoenix”, and “refocus the bulk of our efforts in our engineering hubs in San Francisco and Pittsburgh”.
Real-world trials have yet to resume since the fatality in Tempe, although Meyhofer wants the company to get back on the road during the northern summer.
Whenever real-world testing resumes, it intends “to drive in a much more limited way to test specific use cases” so it can “continually hone the safety aspects of our software and operating procedures”.
In tandem with an internal safety review and government investigations, Uber says it has improved “our simulation capability, which will allow us to be more efficient with our use of road miles”.
According to the Arizona Republic, overnight Uber terminated the contracts of around 300 Arizonans involved with its autonomous vehicle trials.
The company suspended all autonomous vehicle testing on public roads after Volvo XC90 fitted with Uber’s self-driving technology killed a pedestrian crossing the road in Tempe. Its understood safety drivers and other trial employees were paid despite the shutdown.
The ride-hailing firm said it has held talks with Californian officials about restarting public road tests in San Francisco and Sacramento.
In November 2016, Uber was ordered to end its trials in the state after one of its self-driving cars was filmed running a red light. Critically, the company did not have the necessary state permits for real-world autonomous vehicle testing.
Indeed, it was this run-in with Californian authorities, as well as a change in Arizonan law, which convinced Uber to begin testing in the Grand Canyon state.
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