Arizona governor has suspended Uber's self-driving auto tests

Anna Jefferson
March 28, 2018

On March 26, Arizona governor Douglas Ducey told Uber in a letter addressed to its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that it must suspend autonomous vehicle testing in the state.

The fatal collision last weekend of a self-driving auto owned by Uber and a woman crossing a Tempe, Ariz., street raised enough questions that the ride-hailing giant days later suspended such on-road testing of the vehicles.

The Phoenix accident caused the Arizona governor to suspend Uber's self-driving program in that state on Monday.

Video taken from onboard cameras in a fatal self-driving auto crash in Arizona Sunday night shows the operator did not have her eyes on the road and the pedestrian was visible for at least a second. Investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were on the ground last Tuesday, examining the vehicle involved and the accident site.

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Uber moved its driverless cars to Arizona from San Francisco after California regulators shut down the self-driving fleet for not having the proper permits. "Arizona must take action now".

"We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident", Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman, explained in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

Last week, Boston's government asked self-driving companies operating in the city to halt operations while safety procedures are reviewed. "We will enforce the law. If you're going to operate in Arizona; you will have to meet these standards".

"Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads", Ducey said then.

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But Ducey insists that encouraging innovation and fewer regulations doesn't mean putting people at risk.

In the aftermath of the crash, observers also turned their attention to NHTSA's voluntary safety reporting for those deploying autonomous vehicles.

While public safety comes before new experiments, Uber do want the latter to come back soon enough, this time with safer technologies of course. "Our role in the world, we see very clearly, is to build the world's most experienced driver".

Abbott points out that Pennsylvania rules require a human driver to be "behind the wheel and responsible for control of the vehicle at all times", unlike in Arizona where driverless cars were allowed to be operated without a human driver.

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