Uber Gives Up Testing Rights On Self-driving Car, Other Companies Follow Suit

The company suspended autonomous car testing in California after pedestrian death in Arizona

Uber has thrown in the towel on self-driving vehicle testing in California following a crash involving one of its autonomous test SUVs in Arizona. The company is letting its state permit expire, which officially happens on Saturday. Now, other companies are following suit.

Toyota suspended its U.S. autonomous vehicle testing, saying the incident in Arizona could be emotionally distressing for its drivers. Self-driving startup nuTonomy also halted its pilot tests in Boston at the request of city officials. Self-driving technology chipmaker Nvidia will also suspend its autonomous vehicle testing on public roads.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had already suspended Uber’s self-driving vehicle testing privileges after its test SUV struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe. According to Tempe Police, the car was driving approximately 40 mph in a 35 mph zone.

“The vehicle involved is one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles,” the Tempe police said in a statement. “It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel.”

Uber chose not to renew its California testing permit because it knew the application would not be considered until the Tempe investigation comes to a close.

“Uber has indicated that it will not renew its current permit to test autonomous vehicles in California,” said a letter from Brian Soublet, DMV deputy director and chief counsel, to Austin Heyworth, a public affairs manager for Uber.

Before the company can resume autonomous testing in California, it must apply for a new permit.

“Any application for a new permit will need to address any follow-up analysis or investigations from the recent crash in Arizona and may also require a meeting with the department,” Soublet wrote.

Despite several companies pulling the plug on autonomous driving tests, many are staying in the race. Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google’s parent company, is launching a public self-driving car service this year in Phoenix, Arizona. GM and Intel are also testing in the state.