Uber’s self-driving vehicles are running again, after a brief hiatus. The company had halted testing its autonomous vehicles in three states after a crash in Arizona caused one of its cars to flip onto its side.
Uber's self-driving cars resumed running in San Francisco on Monday morning. The company said its vehicles in Arizona and Pittsburgh would also return to roads later in the day.
On Friday, a car in Tempe, Arizona, failed to yield for a self-driving Uber and hit it, causing the Uber car to roll to its side, according to ABC 15 News. Uber said it was investigating the crash and had stopped running its self-driving cars in Arizona, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.
Uber sent its self-driving vehicles to Arizona in December after state regulators shut down testing in San Francisco because the company did not obtain a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. (Those cars returned in January.) According to internal metrics obtained by BuzzFeed News, Uber’s self-driving test vehicles in Arizona require intervention from a human driver about once per mile. How far a self-driving car can travel without needing help from a human driver is considered a metric of progress toward achieving a fully autonomous vehicle.
The disruption to testing comes at a time when Uber’s autonomous vehicle program is navigating tension. In December, when the company briefly tested in San Francisco, one of its vehicles was caught running a red light. Uber said that the traffic violation resulted from human error, but the New York Times reported in February that “the self-driving car was, in fact, driving itself when it barreled through the red light.”
The ride-hail giant is also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet’s Waymo over allegations that its self-driving program’s leader, Anthony Levandowski, stole key technology before leaving to join Uber.
Outside of its self-driving car program, Uber is also grappling with systemic sexism allegations, high executive turnover, and scrutiny of its chief executive Travis Kalanick, who admitted he needs “leadership help” after a video surfaced of him yelling at an Uber driver. Despite the unrelenting PR crises, the company claims its business is doing just fine.
Priya Anand is a tech and transportation reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Priya Anand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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