Uber self-driving cars may resume testing nearly eight months after a tragic accident in Arizona. They want to start testing again in Pittsburgh.
Uber has promised to put two human back-up drivers in each vehicle and take a raft of other precautions to make the vehicles safe.
What went wrong?
In March 2018 a person was killed by one of the Uber self-driving cars as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crossing. Investigating police said the vehicle’s back-up driver was streaming a TV show on her phone and looking downwards before the collision.
It was discovered the autonomous driving system on the Volvo spotted the pedestrian about six seconds before hitting her. The car didn’t stop because automatic braking system had been disabled. It was also found that a Volvo emergency braking system on the car had been turned off.
What will be different with Uber self-driving cars this time?
Uber will take precautions including keeping the autonomous vehicle system engaged at all times. They’ll also activate the Volvo’s automatic emergency braking system as a back-up. They’ll also provide more technical training for employees who are sitting behind the steering wheel. Which is only common sense surely?
The company said it’s focused on restarting tests in Pittsburgh where it has an autonomous vehicle development centre. Later it will discuss resumption in Arizona, California and Toronto.
The Uber self-driving cars system has been improved so it can better predict what a person, vehicle or other object will do as it approaches.
“We are now able to detect objects and actors sooner and execute safe reactions faster,” the company said.