Uber granted autonomous testing permit in California

Posted: 6 February 2020 |

The permit has been granted for the first time since Uber ceased autonomous testing in March 2018 after one of its vehicles was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of a pedestrian.

Uber granted autonomous testing permit in California

Credit: Uber

The California Department for Motor Vehicles has issued a permit to Uber that allows it to test self-driving vehicles on public roads for the first time since March 2018.

Uber has joined 65 other companies including Apple, Tesla, Lyft and Waymo, that already had authorisation to test autonomous vehicles in the state.

Since the 2018 accident, the company has said that it has modified pedestrian and cycling detection and tracking systems and has improved its emergency braking systems. The in-cabin touchscreen software has also reportedly been upgraded, with an interface that is designed to minimise distraction and warns of excess speed during manual driving. 

An Uber spokesperson has said that the ride-hailing firm is considering using San Francisco, where the company is based, as an initial testbed.

“We do not have an update as to exactly when we’ll resume autonomous testing,” the company said in a statement. “Receiving our testing permit through the California Department of Motor Vehicles is a critical step towards that end in Uber’s home city”.

Uber has also recently started to map Washington, D.C. using its self-driving cars on District roads for data collection. The cars were in manual driving mode, meaning a Mission Specialist (a specially trained vehicle operator) maintained control of the vehicle at all times, but the company aims for this to become fully-autonomous by the end of 2020.