- Uber says it will replace a host of operators who had been monitoring the company’s fleet of self-driving vehicles on the road, after one of those vehicles fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona in March.
- The ride-hailing company is hiring 55 “mission specialists” who will report technical data and feedback to developers.
- Uber has made sweeping changes to its autonomous-vehicle program since that fatal collision in Arizona. Since then, the company has paused its autonomous vehicle program in several states and laid off hundreds of people.
Uber is replacing the drivers who had been monitoring the company’s self-driving vehicles during road testing, and replacing them with dozens of specialised technicians.
The move follows a March incident in which an Uber vehicle equipped with the company’s autonomous-driving hardware fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona. The ride-hailing company has paused the program in several states, including Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania since then. Hundreds of those drivers were laid off.
Uber says it hasn’t given up on autonomous-vehicle development, and plans to hit the road again in Pittsburgh soon. An Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Business Insider: “Our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months.”
The ride-hailing company said it will hire 55 “mission specialists” with experience in on-road and track operations. They will report technical data and feedback to Uber developers.
Uber’s autonomous-vehicle program had been troubled since its December 2016 launch in San Francisco. Back then, the company was at odds with city and state officials. One vehicle fitted with its autonomous-driving hardware was spotted running a red light on the day of launch.
According to a New York Times report, Uber employees were hustling to show the autonomous car to their new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, sans glitches, just before that fatal crash in Arizona.
For its part, Uber insists it has taken seriously the safety recommendations that have emerged from internal reviews of its autonomous vehicle program.
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