Learning from the past to move forward
By: Eric Meyhofer, Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group
Developing self-driving technology is one of the biggest technical challenges of our time. If successful, these vehicles have the potential to make our roads safer and transportation more affordable for everyone. With these big challenges and possibilities come an even greater responsibility: that of deploying a safe, reliable, and trustworthy self-driving system. That’s what we are building at ATG.
Over the past nine months, we’ve made safety core to everything we do. We announced our first set of safeguards in July, completed comprehensive internal and external safety reviews, and released our Safety Report in November. We implemented recommendations from our review processes, spanning technical, operational and organizational improvements. This required a lot of introspection and took some time. Now we are ready to move forward.
Today we are resuming on-road testing of self-driving operations in Pittsburgh. This follows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s approval and months of vehicle testing on our track and manual driving on Pittsburgh streets.
Improving our self-driving system’s safety and performance has been our primary focus this year.
To raise the bar for system performance, we’ve reviewed and improved our testing program to ensure that our vehicles are considerate and defensive drivers. Before any vehicles are on public roads, they must pass a series of more than 70 scenarios without safety-related failures on our test track. We are confident we’ve met that bar as we reintroduce self-driving vehicles to Pittsburgh roadways today.
In addition to resuming self-driving operations in Pittsburgh, we are resuming manual driving in San Francisco and Toronto. Manual driving introduces new scenarios that our system will encounter and allows us to recreate them in a virtual world or on the test track to improve system performance. This is an important step towards self-driving. We will only pursue a return to road for self-driving in these cities in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities.
We will continue to prioritize safety and proactively communicate our progress until we’ve built a self-driving system that lives up to the promise of making transportation safer and more affordable for everyone.