Uber asks permission to resume self-driving car testing in Pensylvania

Uber said it now has real-time third party monitoring of back-up safety drivers.


Uber Technologies Inc has asked Pennsylvania for permission to resume self-driving car testing on public roads and has improved the autonomous vehicle software, the company said on Friday, more than seven months after it suspended testing following a deadly crash in Arizona.

 Uber asks permission to resume self-driving car testing in Pensylvania

Uber app in an illustration. Image: Reuiters

The company disclosed in a report to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it would resume testing with two employees in the front seat, enable an automatic braking system at all times, and more strictly monitor safety employees.

Uber has been testing self-driving cars in manual mode on public streets.

In June, police in Tempe, Arizona, said a back-up driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber was distracted and streaming a television show on her phone right up until about the time the car struck and killed a pedestrian walking across a street, deeming the crash that rocked the nascent industry “entirely avoidable.”

The crash was the first death attributed to a self-driving vehicle and was seen as a significant setback for the industry, which is racing to get vehicles into commercial use.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement Friday the company would resume road tests only after implementing “improved processes.”

Uber said it now has real-time third party monitoring of back-up safety drivers, sets limits on the time drivers can work per day and has improved training.

In July, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation said it was issuing new guidelines asking companies to submit details about testing, and that it expected companies would comply.

A spokeswoman for the agency said Friday it had received the application and would review it.

The state said it would send companies an authorization letter after approving their submissions. Uber said it would not resume testing in Pittsburgh until it received that letter.

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit plans to launch a commercial ride-hailing service in Arizona this year, while General Motors Co is on track to roll out a similar service next year with vehicles without steering wheels or brake pedals.

Authorities in Pittsburgh, where Uber debuted its self-driving vehicles in 2016, have said they welcome the cars back on city streets.


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