Just over eight months after an autonomous test vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber wants to continue testing on public roads.
The company has filed an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to test in Pittsburgh, and it has issued a detailed safety report in which it places two human replacement drivers in each vehicle and takes a number of other precautions to secure the vehicles ,
Company officials admit that after the March 18 crash in Tempe, Arizona, in which Elaine Herzberg, 49, was killed, she must come a long way to restore public trust when she sees a dark street outside Crossing pedestrian crossing.
The police said that Uber's backup driver in the Volvo autonomous SUV was disrupting the television program "The Voice" on her cell phone and looking down from the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said the Volvo's autonomous driving system had detected Herzberg about six seconds before the impact, but did not stop because the system, which automatically brakes in potentially dangerous situations, has been disabled. A Volvo emergency braking system was also switched off.
"Our goal is to really work to regain that trust and help drive the industry forward," said Noah Zych, Uber's Systems Safety Director for self-driving cars, in an interview. "We believe the right thing is to be open and transparent about what we do."
In addition to the other precautions, Uber will turn on the autonomous vehicle system in San Francisco at any time and activate Volvo's automatic emergency braking system as a backup.
According to a 70-page safety report released by the company on Friday, Uber also demands more technical training and more expertise from the people behind the wheel of the vehicles.
The report was released after the hail-based company closed its autonomous vehicle tests to conduct an internal review of its safety procedures and an external review by risk management company LeClairRyan.
Although the report covered all the important foundations, Uber would have had to go further, as his self-driving car had killed Herzberg, said Bryant Walker Smith, an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina, who deals with the issues affecting autonomous vehicles , In his blatant omission, Uber took no responsibility for Herzberg's death – the first to involve a fully autonomous vehicle, he said.
"Honestly, I'm looking for more from Uber than other companies, and I suspect governments are, too," said Walker Smith.
Under the Pennsylvania Voluntary Autonomous Policy, the Transportation Department has until November 13 to approve or reject Uber's request or to ask further questions.
The Pennsylvania Act does not currently permit the testing of autonomous vehicles without human replacement drivers. Google's Waymo already carries passengers without human drivers, and General Motors' cruise automation expects this to happen next year.
Officers in Pittsburgh can not legally prevent testing, but they're in safety talks with Uber and four other bodies that have approvals to test autonomous vehicles, said Karina Ricks, city director of mobility and infrastructure.
For example, the city wants to limit the speed of self-driving vehicles in cities to 25 miles per hour, even if the speed is higher.
"Lower speeds give the vehicle and the safety driver more time to react and prevent a crash," said Ricks, who described the talks as fruitful.
In Pittsburgh, Uber's autonomous vehicle development center is located, making it a logical choice for resuming robot testing.
"We work with the city, with the officials, and I'm very interested in making sure that we return by self-drive in consultation and in close partnership with them," said Miriam Chaum, public order manager for Uber self-driving vehicles.
Later, he will discuss the return of his self-driving cars to Arizona, California and Toronto, Ontario, the other test sites. Arizona suspended the company's permission after the crash.
Copyright Associated Press