Uber Technologies Inc. promised to improve the safety of its self-propelled vehicle as it appears to resume testing of technology that was suspended earlier this year after one of its cars hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian.
In a long report Friday, the riding giant said that it would improve the software and training and hold two test drivers in each vehicle, including measures. Uber said that it applied for a license with the Pennsylvania Transportation Department to continue the testing of the Pittsburgh vehicles, where it has an office.
Following the deadly collision in Arizona in March, the company stopped the testing of the robot cars in four cities, closed its Tempe, Ariz. Office and fired around 400 test drivers as part of a wide renewal of the expensive program. Some investors and managers have argued that the division, known as Advanced Technologies Group, should close or be considered significant as the costs are mounted.
Last year, Uber pulled the second driver in front of the passenger seat from most self-propelled vehicles as part of an attempt to save costs. The car in the accident in March was operated by a single safety driver, the last line of defense, which the investigators said was streaming video on the phone in the moments before the crash instead of looking at the road.
Technologists believe that autonomous vehicles can be safer than today's cars by eliminating human error, as well as reducing costs through more efficiency. But technology is years from traffic and must pass regulatory pattern.
"This is not a sprint: Self-propelled and human-powered vehicles will coexist on roads for decades to come," said Ubers CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in the safety report. "Adding self-propelled cars to the platform can increase the size and efficiency of the Uber network as a whole, instead of replacing trips."
The race to get the vehicles on the road is not just about safety. Uber has also estimated about three quarters of the cost of rides going to contract drivers. The company is eyeing a 201
Uber also seeks big car manufacturers to get their vehicles on the road first as well as
who is now a stakeholder as part of a settlement over Uber's alleged theft of the robots car secrets.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Transportation Department said that the agency reviewed Uber's application.
A spokesman for Pittsburgh mayor William Peduto said Uber seems to have a more measured approach to rolling out the vehicles than before. "They seem to have made more security improvements," she said. "There are several discussions we need, including how many vehicles they will have on the city streets and the exact timing."
As part of its new approach, Uber said that it would no longer disable braking systems from Volvo SUVs using what investigators said were the case in the March accident. It will also improve the software to detect objects or persons faster.
The company fired almost all its so-called security drivers earlier this year, saying it will rehire anyone with more extensive training for driving on track and tracks. Some of the drivers whose job is to be awake and take the wheel if something goes wrong had limited previous training and no safety reasons.
Write to Greg Bensinger at firstname.lastname@example.org