The resumption of testing of Uber’s autonomous automated fleet of cars will now be under more controlled and monitored conditions.
In a significant development, Uber Technologies Inc stated, it is resuming the limited testing of self-driving cars on public roads in Pittsburgh; the move comes 9 months after it suspended the program following a deadly accident in Arizona.
Pennsylvania has granted Uber permission to resume testing.
The re-launch differs from Uber’s previous self-driving operations as earlier its autonomous fleet used to operate at high speed on public roads, including in after dark hours and in crowded areas; a backup driver was available in the front seat.
In the current tests, Uber’s fleet will not operate at night or in wet weather conditions; they will also not exceed speeds of 25 miles per hour, said Uber in a statement. Two drivers will also be seated in the front seat. The fleet will also be enabled with an automatic braking system. Uber has also said, it will strictly monitor the safety of employees and make improvements to its self-driving software.
Incidentally, the autonomous fleet will not resume picking up passengers – a service it launched in 2016.
As part of its statement, Uber said, it will resume manual driving of its self-driving cars in Toronto and San Francisco; the car will be controlled by a driver and be monitored by a second person in the passenger seat.
Manual driving will help in gathering data on new driving scenarios, said Uber.
It went on to add, it “will only pursue a return to road for self-driving in these cities in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities.”
In a blog post, Eric Meyhofer who heads Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group said, Uber has “reviewed and improved our testing program to ensure that our vehicles are considerate and defensive drivers.”
Vehicles “must pass a series of more than 70 scenarios without safety-related failures on our test track” before testing on public roads, said Meyhofer.
Uber also mentioned, the Volvo automatic emergency braking system will be activated at all times.