Uber has confirmed recently that they have hired a former American safety official, one that dealt with the government’s handling of autonomous cars, for its own self-driving efforts.
Uber welcomes long-time colleague of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nat Beuse, to lead car safety research for the company. Beuse is the most-recent federal official to join Uber’s initiative to commercialize autonomous cars.
Auto News reported that in October, the private-sector company requested permission to continue autonomous-driving vehicle testing within public roads in the Pennsylvania, stating it had enhanced its autonomous driving software. This comes over seven months post-suspension testing after a fatal accident that occurred in Arizona. According to an Uber spokesperson, the company is still awaiting approval.
Uber has stated it would continue testing with two staff members sitting in the front seat, facilitate an automatic braking system during all times, and monitor employees more strictly.
Sadly, this past summer in Tempe, Arizona, a back-up employee in an automatic Uber was distracted while streaming a TV show on her mobile, when the vehicle hit and killed a person walking across a street. This was the first death linked to an autonomous car, and has created a tremendous set back as it relates to self-driving in general.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in October that it will be focusing on revising safety rules that prohibit fully-self-driving vehicles from all roads without humans at their control.
While self-driving initiatives sound like an exciting jump in technology, and are truly aimed to lessen crashes and accidents on the road, here’s hoping that under Beuse’s leadership, Uber can progress with their autonomous-driving research, placing an emphasis on safety and attentiveness, without any future incidents.
Only time will tell if the auto industry can create a vehicle that truly can function on its own accord, without worry of anything going wrong.