AZ suspends Uber's self-driving car program

AZ suspends Uber's self-driving car program

by Ronan Glon

Players in the autonomous car industry are increasingly pointing a finger at Uber's software.

After luring Uber to Arizona with the promise of loose regulations, governor Doug Ducey suspended the company's self-driving car program in the wake of the crash that killed 49-year old Elaine Herzberg.

"Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona's approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona. The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation," Ducey wrote in a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosowshahi.

Uber declined to comment on the decision. The other states the company tests its prototypes in (including California and Pennsylvania) haven't revealed if they're considering a similar ban. As of writing, the company's entire fleet of of autonomous cars remains grounded.

Several suppliers moved to distance themselves from the embattled ride-sharing giant. Aptiv, the firm which supplies the sensors fitted to the regular-production Volvo XC90, stressed Uber disabled the stock safety systems when it took delivery of the Swedish SUV.

"We don't want people to be confused or think it was a failure of the technology that we supply for Volvo, because that's not the case," Aptiv spokesman Zach Peterson told Bloomberg.

Players in the autonomous car industry are increasingly pointing a finger at Uber's software. After running internal tests, Mobileye found its technology detected Herzberg one second before the impact. Waymo CEO John Krafcik believes the company's technology "would be able to handle situations like this one," the Los Angeles Times reports.

We recently reported Velodyne, the California-based firm many sources (including the BBC) claim designed the Lidar fitted to Uber's prototypes, was "baffled" by the accident. A spokeswoman for the company told Leftlane "this relationship [...] has not been confirmed by either party."

We've reached out to find out if that's a flat-out denial Uber's prototypes used a Velodyne-designed Lidar. We've also asked Uber for clarification, and we'll update this story when we hear back.