The streets of Washington is about to see Uber’s new self-driven cars struggling through the streets and traffic very soon. Uber announced that they will release these autonomous cars on the road for collecting data to support their fleet of vehicles. The cars will initially be driven by human drivers to collect the required data into the system. The cars will then collect the mapping data and driving scenarios which will then be simulated by the engineers in Uber.
“Our hope is that this first round of manually driven data collection will lay the foundation for testing our vehicles in self-driving mode in Washington, DC,” said the Advanced Technologies Group in Uber. The also added that while they are obviously excited about the new possibilities, they also will be committed to ensuring that every information obtained from the driving on public roads contributes to the safe and meaningful learning to inform the development team.
They have to approach these self-driven experiments with extreme precautions especially after what happened in Arizona in March 2018. A 49-year-old pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg was hit by a self-driven Uber car with one safety driver behind the wheels. It was a fatal accident. Police reported that the driver was not concentrating on the road and was streaming videos on her phone.
This incident put Uber, the driver, State of Arizona and the perished victim under criminal offence. The company was later cleared of criminal charges and the lawsuit was settled with Herzberg’s family which involved an undisclosed sum of money.
The testing of autonomous vehicles resumed after 9 months of the crash and they were driving the cars in Pittsburgh where the headquarters of Advanced Technology Group is situated. Uber is carrying out the data collection in 3 other cities: Toronto, Dallas and San Francisco. A third-generation vehicle was recently introduced by the company which will be up for testing this year.
Other than Uber, Ford and Volkswagen have been testing the autonomous vehicles in the roads of Washington DC since 2018. Optimus Ride, a Boston based company has been testing its self-driving cars in the Northern Virginia suburbs.