Uber’s self-driving car program left San Francisco in a huff three years ago—shortly after one of its vehicles struck and killed a woman walking in Arizona. Now it will return to city streets. Brace.
According to a company spokesperson, two of the company’s self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles will hit the roads Tuesday and operate on the city’s west side. The test will only last a few weeks.
Each vehicle will be chaperoned by two safety drivers in the front seats, drive around during daylight hours, and will travel at the posted speed limit. No more than eight of its cars will ride the streets on a given day.
“We are excited to resume autonomous testing in Uber’s home city this week,” said an Uber spokesperson in a written statement. “Our testing area will be limited in scope to start, but we look forward to scaling up our efforts in the months ahead and learning from the difficult but informative road conditions that the Bay Area has to offer.”
Uber says they have informed the California Department of Motor Vehicle and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) of its plans to resume autonomous driving in San Francisco, an issue the multibillion-dollar company shirked the last time it tested its much-maligned technology on city streets.
One week after the company’s self-driving pilot program launched in SF in December 2016, the California DMV revoked Uber vehicles’ registrations because the company failed to file a $150 permit. The program was also saddled with less-than-stellar technology after one of its cars blew through a red light in SoMa.
As for the Arizona death, after an investigation, according to The Verge, “the National Transportation Safety Board split the blame between Uber, the safety driver, the victim, and the state of Arizona in a blistering official report that also took the federal government to task for failing to properly regulate the industry.”
Uber currently tests its self-driving program in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Washington DC.