Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Not Following Bans on Self-Driving Vehicles Ariz. and Calif. Halt Testing after Fatal Accident

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Not Following Bans on Self-Driving Vehicles Ariz. and Calif. Halt Testing after Fatal Accident

Article excerpt

Eight days after a woman pushing her bike across the street was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Ariz. - the first time an autonomous car has killed a pedestrian - Arizona officials have ordered the San Francisco-based ride-hailing behemoth to suspend all testing.

They contend that the company's technology failed to meet the expectation that it would prioritize public safety.

Pittsburgh won't be enforcing the same ban for its Strip-District based operation.

"I don't think it's practical to do it until the investigation has been completed in Arizona," Mayor Bill Peduto said Tuesday afternoon.

California's Department of Motor Vehicles told Uber in a letter Tuesday that it will lose testing privileges after Saturday. If Uber wants to return, it will need a new permit and has to address investigations into the fatal crash in Arizona.

Uber voluntarily stalled its autonomous pilots in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto following the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was pushing a bicycle across the road when an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode struck and killed her. The safety operator behind the wheel was looking down at the time of the crash.

"We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week," an Uber spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the governor's office to address any concerns they have."

Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona wrote in an email Monday to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that the incident last week illustrated an "unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation."

The rebuke from the governor is a reversal from what has been an open-arms policy by that state, heralding a lack of regulation as an asset to lure autonomous vehicle testing - and tech jobs. Waymo, the self-driving car company spun out from Google, and General Motors-owned Cruise are also testing cars in Arizona.

Mr. Ducey said he was troubled by a video released by the Tempe Police Department that seemed to show that neither the Uber safety driver nor the autonomous vehicle detected the presence of a pedestrian in the road in the moments before the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash with the local police, has not yet ruled whether the company was at fault.

In Pittsburgh, Uber began offering passenger rides in self-driving cars in September 2016. Pilots in Tempe began February 2017.

Following last week's fatal accident in Arizona, Uber representative Justin Kintz told Mr. Peduto that the company has been in communication with the City of Pittsburgh, PennDOT and Gov. Tom Wolf's office to ensure state leaders are up-to-date.

"Uber understands we need to meet a satisfactory level of scientific confidence to resume operations," Mr. …

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