After remaining suspended for nine months following the death of an individual in a deadly accident in Arizona, ride hailing company Uber Technologies Inc is resuming its trial on limited self-driving cars on public roads in Pittsburgh.
It was just days ago that permission to run the tests were granted to the company by the state of Pennsylvania.
Compared to Uber’s previous self-driving operations, this relaunch is a significant reduction.
On earlier occasions, Uber had conducted tests on autonomous vehicles which ran at high speed on public roads even after dark and in areas of the city where there is generally a crowd of pedestrians and had a single backup driver in the front seat managing emergencies.
The company said that it has brought in changes to its testing this time around and will not conduct the tests in the dark or in wet weather and will restrain the speed of the vehicles within 25 miles per hour.
The relaunch of the tests would have two employees in the front seat and the vehicles would be equipped with an automatic braking system at all times. The company would also monitor safety employees more strictly after the company announced that it made enhancement to the self-driving software of the test vehicles. No passengers would be picked up by the self driving cars in this phase of the tests which had been started by the company in 2016.
According to a report published by Reuters earlier this month, in the initial phases of the resuming of trials, the company plans to start off with just a “a handful” of cars on a mile loop of road situated between two company offices in Pittsburgh. It was here that the company had first started trials of autonomous vehicles in 2016.
With a driver controlling the autonomous vehicles and a second person in the passenger seat monitoring the drive, Uber would restart manual driving of its self-driving cars in Toronto and San Francisco, the company has also said.
Uber said that it would be able to gather data on new driving scenarios by manual driving of autonomous cars.
Uber said it “will only pursue a return to road for self-driving in these cities in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities.”
Uber has “reviewed and improved our testing program to ensure that our vehicles are considerate and defensive drivers,” said Eric Meyhofer, who heads Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, in a blog post. He added that vehicles “must pass a series of more than 70 scenarios without safety-related failures on our test track” before testing on public roads.”
Following the death of a woman in a crash with one of Uber’s self driving test cars in Arizona, authorities there had suspended Uber’s ability to test its self-driving cars in March this year. The deceased woman was killed while crossing the street at night in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Uber’s largest testing hub. Following the incident, the entire autonomous car testing program was stopped voluntarily by Uber.
(Adapted from StreetInsider.com)