Uber wants its self-driving cars to get back on the road.Image: justing sullivan / Getty ImagesBy Karissa Bell2018-11-03 17:50:35 UTC
Seven months after a fatal crash involving a self-driving car in Arizona, Uber says it’s ready to get its self-driving cars up and running again.
The company released a new safety report as it asked the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for permission to start testing its self-driving vehicles on public roads in Pennsylvania.
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In the report, Uber detailed a series of safety changes made following the fatal crash in March. The company says it will now place two human operators in each self-driving vehicle, one to sit behind the wheel, and another to monitor the system from the passenger seat.
“We are deeply regretful for the crash in Tempe, Arizona, this March,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a blog post. “In the months since, we have undertaken a top-to-bottom review of ATG’s safety approaches, system development, and culture.
“We have taken a measured, phased approach to returning to on-road testing, starting first with manual driving in Pittsburgh. We committed to deliver this safety report before returning to on-road testing in self-driving mode, and will go back on the road only when we’ve implemented improved processes.”
If Uber wins approval, it will be the first time the company has been able to start testing its self-driving cars on public roads since the fatal crash in March. (The company previously got approval to get the vehicles back on the road in Pittsburgh, but only in “manual mode,” in which they’re driven just like any other car.) The crash, which happened in Tempe, Arizona, raised a number of concerns about the reliability of Uber’s self-driving cars.
Investigators found that the car’s system didn’t alert the driver about the pedestrian in the road, even though its sensors had detected her. And the car didn’t slow down or brake after the woman was detected. The driver, who was supposed to be monitoring the road, was also later found to be watching Hulu at the time of the crash.