Uber lays off around 100self-driving car operators
San Francisco and Pittsburgh drivers among hardest hit as company scales back testing
Uber’s self- driving car experiments are taking a backseat for now.
After an Uber self- driving car fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in March, Uber paused testing of its experimental vehicles on public roads. On Wednesday, it laid off approximately 100 autono- mous vehicle operators.
While most of the operators are based in Pittsburgh, some are based in the Bay Area, an Uber spokesperson told this news organization.
“Our team remains committed to building safe self- driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months,” the Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The laid- off operators, however, can re- apply for another job at Uber as “mission specialists.” Mission specialists will be trained in both onroad and more advanced testtrack operations and are expected to provide more technical feedback to self- driving car developers.
Uber is hiring 55 mission specialists and will prioritize the laid- off employees. Uber also plans to resume its self- driving car operations in Pittsburgh later this summer.
Soon after the fatal car accident on March 18, Uber paused all of its self- driving car opera- tions in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tempe and Toronto.
In May, the National Transportation Safety Board ( NTSB) released its preliminary report on the accident. It found that the Uber vehicle that struck and killed 49-year- old Elaine Herzberg was “operating normally at the time of the crash, and there were no faults or diagnostic messages.” The report also said Uber previously disabled the vehicle’s auto- matic emergency braking system to prevent erratic driving.
A separate report in June from the Tempe Police Department on the crash said the autonomous vehicle operator behind the wheel was streaming an episode of “The Voice” on his cell phone and that the operator could have braked the car to stop the accident from happening.
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Laid-off operators can re-apply for another job at Uber as “mission specialists.” Mission specialists will be trained in both on-road and more advanced test-track operations.