Almost eight months after one of his autonomous test vehicles beat and killed an Arizona pedestrian, Uber wants to continue testing on public roads.
The company has filed an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to test in Pittsburgh and has issued a long safety report that promises to put two human backup drivers in each vehicle and take a number of other precautions to make the vehicles safe.
Corporate workers acknowledge that they have a long way to go to regain public confidence after March 18 crash in Tempe, Arizona, which killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, when crossing a dark road off the lines on a crossroads.
Police said that Uber's backup driver in the autonomous Volvo SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" on the phone and looking down before crashing. The National Transport Safety Authority said the autonomous Volvo operating system discovered Herzberg approx. six seconds before it hit her but did not stop because the system used to automatically use brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been deactivated. A Volvo emergency braking system had also been turned off.
"Our goal is to really work to regain it trust and work to help move the whole industry in the future, says Noah Zych, Uber's leader in system safety for self-propelled cars, in an interview. "We think the right thing to do is be transparent and transparent about the things we do."
Among other measures, San Francisco-based Uber keeps the autonomous vehicle system engaged at all times and enables Volvo's automatic emergency braking system as a backup.
In addition, Uber demands more technical training and expertise among employees behind the vehicle's wheels, according to a 70-page safety report released by the company Friday .
The report comes after the rider has turned off autonomous vehicle tests to conduct an internal review of the security procedures, as well as an external g review by the risk management company LeClairRyan.
Although the report covered all the key bases, Uber should have even more given his self-driving car killed Herzberg, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant law professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied the issues that affect autonomous vehicles. In his most sharp omission, Uber did not take responsibility for Herzberg's death – the first involved a completely autonomous vehicle, he said.
"Frankly, I look for more from Uber than from other companies, and I suspect governments can be just as good," said Walker Smith.
Under Pennsylvania's voluntary autonomous guidelines, the transport department has approved or denied Uber's application before 13 November, or to ask further questions.
Pennsylvania currently does not allow testing of autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers. Googles Waymo is already transporting passengers in the Phoenix area without human drivers, and General Motors Cruise Automation expects to do it next year.
Pittsburgh officials can not legitimately prevent testing, but they are in security negotiations with Uber and four other entities that are authorized to test autonomous vehicles, "said Karina Ricks, City Director of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.
For example, the city will limit the vehicle speed to 25 miles per hour in urban areas, even if the specified speed is higher.
"Lower speed speeds give more time to the vehicle and the safety driver to react and prevent a crash," said Ricks, who characterized the conversations as fertile.
Pittsburgh is home to the Ubers Autonomous Vehicle Development Center, making it a logical choice for the resumption of robotic tests.
"We are engaged with the city, with the officials, and are very eager to ensure that we make a return to the road in self-driving mode in consultation and close cooperation with them," said Miriam Chaum, head of public policy for Ubers self-propelled vehicles.
Later, it will discuss bringing their self-propelled cars back to Arizona, California and Toronto, Ontario, its other test sites. Arizona suspended the company's license to test after the accident.
Copyright Associated Press