Uber Self-Driving Cars Are Now Back on Road

After a notable gap of nine months, Uber ATG Self-Driving Cars are now resuming their test drives in the streets of Pennslyvania. This decision from Uber comes after the company received the permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The permit allows Uber to deploy their Self-Driving Cars on the road, for testing.

Uber ATG will start slow by deploying only two cars initially. They will also restrict the cars to daytime and weekdays. Uber will, however, will be seen as adding more vehicles over the course of time.

Uber Self-Driving Car

Uber Self-Driving Car | Source – Uber

The cars will also be restricted to test a mile around the Strip District in Pittsburgh at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour.

Uber did take a lot of strategic and impactful steps before climbing back into the Self-Driving Car Segment. The most prominent of which include investing considerable time for testing its Autonomous Cars on closed tracks, reviewing and updating its Safety Driver Training Practises and also appointing Christopher Hart as the Safety Advisor.

For those of you who do not know of Christopher Hart, he was the former chair of National Transportation Safety Board.

The Uber Self-Driving Car Program was suspended approximately nine months in the wake of a tragic incident that took place in Tempe, Arizona. An Uber’s Self-Driving Car (A Volvo XC 90) accidentally took the life of a pedestrian who was crossing the road.

The victim, the 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was hit by Uber’s XC 90 while in the Autonomous Mode The event took place while she was walking her bike across the road. Though Uber’s system recognized her one second prior to the collision, and the subsequent need for an emergency braking, the car could not do apply emergency brakes since Uber had disabled the same to avoid unexpected behavior of its cars in the presence of unidentified inanimate subjects. The driver was expected to be vigilant and take control in such situations. Uber was hence banned from carrying out its test drives in the state.

However, in the cars deployed for the current test drives, the cars will also have Volvo’s Emergency Braking System as active. Each of the cars in testing will come with two trained drivers (Mission Specialists, as Uber calls them) who will, at all time be active and on the lookout for any unexpected scenarios. This is applicable whether or not the cars are in Autonomous Mode.

Uber ATG could also be expected to deploy its self-driving unit in Toronto and San-Fransisco. This is again aided by the Taxi Giant’s decision to continue its manual drives in Toronto and San-Francisco.

Eric Meyhofer, Uber ATG Head, had earlier mentioned that the scenarios encountered while Manual Driving serves as key analysis inputs for refining and developing their Self-Driving Technology.

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Sources – Techcrunch | Verge