Uber Not Exiting Self-Driving Cars After Fatal Crash: CEO

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Uber isn’t planning to exit the self-driving vehicle segment following a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona from last month that resulted in the death of a 49-year-old woman who was hit by one of the company’s autonomous Volvo XC90 SUV models, Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said Wednesday at a transport conference. The head of what’s still believed to be the world’s most valuable startup hasn’t answered questions about when Uber is planning to resume its self-driving trials, all of which have been halted after the fatal incident from last month. Arizona also suspended the company’s driverless vehicle testing license shortly after the crash, whereas the firm left its California permit to expire two weeks ago, prompting speculation that it may be planning on scrapping its ambitious project.

Uber is taking the current situation “very seriously,” is cooperating with Tempe authorities looking into the incident, and won’t be announcing any further plans related to its self-driving ambitions until the probe is concluded, Mr. Khosrowshahi suggested, having also refused to speculate what might have been the reason for the traffic accident. While the pedestrian victim is legally at fault for the crash as she was jaywalking over a four-lane, high-speed road at night, footage of the incident filmed by a camera installed on Uber’s vehicle showed that the car made no attempt to brake and a preliminary inspection of the scene conducted by Tempe PD confirmed as much. The Volvo model in question hence presumably failed to detect the victim for unknown reasons.

Some industry watchers have recently been raising concerns about the overall safety measures implemented into Uber’s latest self-driving vehicles, pointing to the fact that the XC90 SUVs have only a single LiDAR and seven radars instead of seven LiDARs and ten radars its original Ford Fusion prototypes featured, with the cars hence having more blind spots. Uber previously touted driverless transportation solutions as its business endgame that would allow it to additionally reduce the cost of its fares and help it achieve long-term sustainability.