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PHOENIX (KDKA/AP) – Uber is ending its operation of self-driving cars in Arizona more than two months after a woman was struck and killed by one of its vehicles.
The company notified about 300 workers Wednesday that their positions would be terminated.
Uber previously suspended operations of autonomous vehicles following the March 18 accident in which a 49-year-old woman was hit while crossing the street in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe.
The vehicle was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel.
The ride-sharing service said in a prepared statement that it remains focused on a “top-to-bottom safety review” and will now focus more efforts on its engineering hubs in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
Meghan Schiller’s Report:
The company says it will revive self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this summer.
However, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he was not aware of Uber’s announcement to resume testing this summer until he saw it on social media. He said he is requiring a “full federal investigation” before the autonomous vehicles can return to the streets.
“He was shocked. I mean to get calls, not only from KDKA, but from media around the country, and he’s in Europe with media outlets around the world, to ask him about something and he doesn’t know because he hasn’t checked Twitter, that’s not how a mayor should learn about key operations in their city,” said Peduto’s Chief-of-Staff Dan Gilman.
Mayor Peduto’s full statement reads:
“I made it clear to Uber officials after the Arizona crash that a full federal investigation had to be completed, with strong rules for keeping streets safe, before I would agree with the company to begin testing on Pittsburgh streets again.
In talks with company officials, I and the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure additionally required conditions with Uber before Pittsburgh would agree to testing. The conditions included that:
- Automated vehicles would never exceed 25 miles-per-hour in the city, on any street, regardless of legal speed limits. (The probability of pedestrians surviving a collision is much higher at speeds of under 25 mph. Even at 30 mph fatality rates increase dramatically.)
- The company use its driver app to alert human drivers when they are exceeding speed limits, so human drivers adhere to speed limits as well.
Uber did not tell me of today’s announcement, and I was forced to learn about it through social media reports. This is not the way to rebuild a constructive working relationship with local government, especially when facing a public safety matter.”
Uber spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak says the decision does not impact 550 other Arizona employees.
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