Uber restarted its self-driving testing program that was recently suspended following a relatively serious traffic accident in Tempe, Arizona involving one of the company’s autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs. The San Francisco-based tech giant revealed that its self-driving fleet in Tempe and Pittsburgh is now returning on public roads and will once again be picking up passengers. The recently relaunched testing program in San Francisco is also being resumed, though the fleet in Uber’s hometown still won’t be picking up riders for the time being.
The crash prompting the company to suspend its autonomous driving program occurred on Friday and resulted in Uber’s vehicle being flipped on its side, while the other involved car suffered moderate damage. Two of the firm’s engineers were in the car at the time of the accident, but they weren’t carrying any passengers, Uber previously confirmed. Local authorities revealed on Sunday that all of the blame for the crash falls on the other driver, adding that no one was seriously injured in the accident. Seeing how Uber’s vehicle wasn’t at fault for the incident, it’s still unclear why the company opted to suspend its self-driving tests, even though the decision was quickly rolled back.
The Tempe accident isn’t the first setback for Uber’s self-driving ambitions that started materializing last September when the company initially started testing one of its autonomous fleets in Pittsburgh. Since then, Uber clashed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regarding testing permits it argued are unnecessary and was also hit with a lawsuit filed by Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo that alleges the company stole LiDAR designs and other trade secrets with the goal of catching up to its competitors. The San Francisco-based ride-hailing company is also currently suffering through a number of scandals that led to some high-profile departures including its former Vice President of Mapping Amit Singhal, as well as its President Jeff Jones who will soon be leaving the firm. Uber’s board previously stated the position of Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick is safe for the time being despite recent troubles, but noted it’s looking for a Chief Operating Officer that will help Kalanick lead the company in the future.