- Uber is shutting down its self-driving car program in Arizona after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian there in March.
- The crash is believed to be the first time a self-driving car has killed a pedestrian.
- Uber is laying off 300 workers as part of the pulling out.
- Uber has already paused its autonomous vehicle program across the US, and the governor of Arizona had suspended it in the state.
Uber is ending its self-driving car program in Arizona, months after a fatal crash took the life of a pedestrian.
As it pulls its driverless car program out of the state, Uber is laying off 300 workers, Business Insider has learned. The news was first reported by AZ Central.
In March, one of Uber’s self-driving cars operating in autonomous mode struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, in Tempe, Arizona. The crash is believed to be the first time a pedestrian has been killed by a self-driving vehicle anywhere in the world.
The company paused all of its autonomous vehicle testing in the wake of the collision, and subsequently also opted not to renew its licence to test its vehicles in California.
The crash represents the most significant setback to date to Uber’s ambitions to transition from human drivers to a fleet of self-driving vehicles. Former CEO Travis Kalanick once said that if Uber wasn’t first to develop the technology, it would be an existential threat to the company.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had already suspended Uber’s ability to test self-driving cars in the state, saying footage released of the crash was “disturbing and alarming, and it raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona.”
In a statement provided to Business Insider, an Uber spokesperson said: “We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future. In the meantime, we remain focused on our top-to-bottom safety review, having brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.”
After the crash, The New York Times published a report on how the company’s vehicles were struggling to navigate some environments and human safety drivers frequently had to take control of its vehicles. The vehicle itself – a Volvo XC90 SUV – also had its manufacturer-installed crash avoidance systems deactivated at the time of the collision.
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