Uber lays off around 100 self-driving car operators in San Francisco, Pittsburgh: reports

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 autonomous vehicle operators, according to Quartz.

While most of the operators are based in Pittsburgh, some are based in the Bay Area, according to Quartz and other reports.

Uber did not immediately respond to this news organization’s request for comment. But an Uber spokesperson told Quartz that “our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months.”

The laid-off operators, however, can re-apply for another job at Uber as “mission specialists,” according to Quartz. Mission specialists will be trained in both on-road and more advanced test-track 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, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Soon after the fatal car accident on March 18, Uber paused all of its self-driving car operations 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 automatic 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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Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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