Uber’s Autonomous Driving Program Could Resume By August

Uber’s autonomous driving program came to a screeching halt following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona earlier this year. However, the company has invested a lot of time and money in the program, so giving up is not an option.

According to a source who spoke with The Information, Uber plans to resume testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, and possibly San Francisco, by August. When testing resumes, safety will be front and center.

The Information says the company will implement 16 safety recommendations which were made by an internal team that “reviewed Uber’s operations after the accident.” One of the reported changes will be an emergency braking system which will help prevent or mitigate collisions if there is a problem with the car’s autonomous driving system.

Besides the emergency braking system, autonomous Uber vehicles will now be staffed with two people. Uber used to have a safety driver and a co-pilot in its autonomous vehicles but dropped the practice to expand the testing program. However, some criticized the move as they felt safety drivers paid more attention when they were in the vehicle with another person. This seems reasonable and it’s possible that fatal accident wouldn’t have occurred if there was somebody else there to tell the safety driver to stop watching The Voice on their smartphone.

Other changes will include modifications to the autonomous driving software. The system will now be better at detecting objects on the roadway. The publication says Uber had previously adjusted the system’s sensitivity to limit “sudden braking or jerky moves” when an object was detected.

Aside from these changes, Uber has hired former NTSB chairman Christopher Hart to advise it on safety issues.

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  • Status

    If Uber pays transportation and operational taxes in PA, then they have every right to be on public roads as you do.

    Were you just as uptight about road use by private entities when the Google StreetView car came by, because I don’t think you were.

    • E Gold

      If the ways Uber flat-out ignored our taxi laws and for-hire transportation regulations are any indication, I highly doubt Uber is actually​ paying all they taxes they should be. The money spent on there SUVs go to the Chinese, and they register their SUVs out of state, so those operational costs clearly don’t go to PA.
      You are right about one thing- I never get ‘uptight’ about Google Street view cars. I might see one once, maybe twice a year. But they operate courteously and there’s not a massive fleet of them whirring around our busy neighborhoods at rush hour. And I’ve never seen a Streetview car put it’s flashers on and just stop on a busy street, frustrating everyone behind.

      • Status

        Taxi laws would apply if they were a taxi service, the same as it is everywhere. I can say the same of the privately and corporately held transportation services like Lyft, but even those organizations aren’t filled with slovenly taxi drivers with ridiculous religious demands to exclude people from driving. Uber, Lyft, and the coming autonomous projects like Waymo will finally take away the burden of being on roads with ignorant human drivers.

        As for the SUV’s, I doubt that many Americans care anymore about the origin of Volvo’s parent company. To them, Volvo is synonymous with safety and has been for over 50 years. That’s won’t change because of a negligent contractor distracted by The Voice or any other bottom feeder programming. I have no doubt that the XC90 is by far and away safer than any other comparable SUV on the road.

  • Silimarina

    So you are a taxi driver, right?

    • E Gold

      Wrong. I am not a taxi driver. I was in valet services when Uber first began. Their drivers continuously congested my roadside valet lane, and caused me endless aggravation.

      • Silimarina

        I think a find taxi drivers the worse. They think that the road is theirs

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