March 28, 2018

Self-driving gear change: Uber bows out of US states as Jaguar and Waymo team up

By Billy

US ride-hailing app Uber has said it is not looking to renew its permit to test self-driving cars on public roads in California and has “indefinitely suspended” testing in Pennsylvania.

The move — confirmed in a California Department of Motor Vehicles public letter yesterday — has been taken as a sign Uber is re-thinking its plans to launch a self-driving car service.

Uber was ordered to halt testing its driverless cars in Arizona by the state’s governor Doug Ducey after a collision killed a woman in Tempe earlier this month.

Uber halted all testing of its self-driving cars after one of them killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg who was walking her bicycle across a road in Tempe, Ariz.

The car was going 40 miles per hour and did not slow down before impact, the Tempe police said.

Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said this week that while he “didn’t know all the specifics,” the video from the Tempe crash “did look like both the tech and the driver could have or should have prevented [the collision], it was reported by Reuters.

Read more: A history of self-driving car crashes

A spokesperson for Uber said:

We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident. Given this, we decided to not reapply for a California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future.

Nvidia, a supplier of semiconductors and other computer hardware used in Uber’s autonomous vehicles, yesterday suspended tests of self-driving cars on public roads in order to “learn from the Uber incident”.

Meanwhile, UK car maker Jaguar has teamed up with Google’s self-driving department Waymo to make a premium autonomous car.

Jaguar Land Rover — which produces one in three cars in the UK — is to supply up to 20,000 of its new electric I-Pace cars to Waymo to be converted into self-driving vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

Tests on self-driving I-Pace cars — which have a range of up to 298 miles and battery charging that takes 40 minutes for an 80% charge — are set to begin this year.

The Jaguar deal expands on Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars it has been building with Fiat Chrysler since 2015. Waymo has been working on self-driving cars since 2009.

Jaguar Land Rover chief executive Ralf Speth said:

With the Jaguar I-Pace we have a world-beating car that’s captured the imagination of customers around the world. Our passion for further advancing smart mobility needs expert long-term partners.

In joining forces with Waymo we are pioneering to push the boundaries of technology. Together we will deliver the self-driving Waymo Jaguar I-Pace with the grace, space and eco-pace that customers expect.

John Krafcik, the chief executive of Waymo, said:

While we’ve been focused at Waymo on building the world’s most experienced driver, the team at Jaguar Land Rover has developed an all-new battery-electric platform that looks to set a new standard in safety, design and capability.

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