Uber’s restarted self-driving car trials get green light
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has given Uber permission to resume self-driving vehicle trials in its state.
After a self-driving Uber test vehicle killed a woman in Arizona last year, the company’s driverless vehicle tests were stopped in their tracks. Much of the staff was fired, and the state Governor of Arizona forbade Uber’s autonomous vehicles from the state’s roads. The problem was compounded after another crash forced the company to pull its entire fleet of self-driving cars off roads.
A recent leaked email from Uber also suggested the company was aware its vehicles were “routinely in accidents” prior to the fatal collision, which added doubt to the company’s efforts to create autonomous cars. In the future Uber will have many eyes on it, to ensure no more avoidable fatal accidents occur.
While the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has given permission for Uber to start up these trials again, spokespeople from Uber have told various outlets that it has not yet started up its trials again.
Since Uber paused its autonomous car efforts last year, a series of big-name competitors have thrown their hat in the ring. Daimler, Bosch and Nvidia are trialling their new vehicles in California in late 2019, while Volvo has big plans for 2020. Even the self-driving taxi market is becoming crowded, with ZMP in Japan planning a fleet of the vehicles in time for the 2020 Olympics and Addison Lee in London hoping to release its own self-driving taxis in 2021.
With its entire fleet of automated vehicles scuppered for over a year, and with them plans to dominate the market, Uber needs to scramble if it wants to stay on top of this competition. In addition, with a range of high-profile PR disasters before and after the Arizona killing, it’s going to need to work hard to avoid driving away its user base.