WASHINGTON: Uber Technologies Inc said Friday it has asked Pennsylvania for permission to resume self-driving car testing on public roads and has improved the autonomous vehicle software, more than seven months after the company suspended testing after a deadly crash in Arizona.
The company disclosed in a report to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will resume testing with two employees in the front seat, will enable an automatic braking system at all times and more strictly monitor safety employees.
In June, police in Tempe, Arizona, said a back-up driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber was distracted and streaming a television show on her phone right up until about the time the car struck and killed a pedestrian walking across a street, deeming the crash that rocked the nascent industry “entirely avoidable.”
The crash was the first-ever death attributed to a self-driving vehicle and was seen as a significant setback for the industry, which is racing to get vehicles into commercial use.
Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement Friday the company “will go back on the road only when we’ve implemented improved processes.”
Uber said it now has real-time third party monitoring of back-up safety drivers, sets limits on time drivers can work per day and has improved training.
In July, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation said it was issuing new guidelines asking companies to submit details about testing but said it expected companies would comply.
The state said after it approves submissions it will send companies “an authorization letter.” Uber said it will not resume testing until it receives that letter.
Alphabet Inc’s Waymo (GOOGL.O) unit plans to launch a commercial ride-hailing service in Arizona this year, while General Motors Co (GM.N) is on track to roll out a similar service next year with vehicles without steering wheels or brake pedals.–Reuters