Uber returns self-driving to Pittsburgh

Andrew Cardone, North Campus Staff

Nine months after the tragic accident that suspended its research, Uber’s self-driving cars have returned to Pittsburgh streets.

Uber had suspended the self-driving program following the death of 49-year-old Elain Herzberg of Arizona. Herzberg was crossing the street at night when a self-driving Uber was coming down the road. Despite the car’s technology, including built-in emergency systems car and Uber’s additions, the car allegedly had its emergency systems disabled, according to a US federal report.

Forbes.com reported that the National Transportation Safety Board found, “The Sensors on the Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted the woman but because of the disabled emergency braking features the car did not apply the brakes and the human backup driver in the car was not warned, hence, why he did not intervene in that time. It was found that the car was traveling at 43 mph and needed to break at least. 1.3 seconds before impact.”

According to a CNN.com business report, Uber has made changes following the crash.

Cars will now have two employees in the front seat to act as “back-up” drivers for the automated systems. Uber calls these employees “mission specialists.” Other safety improvements include outside monitoring of the back-up drivers, and additional screenings of applicants. In addition to the report in CNN business, despite Uber canceling the program initially and then want to apply it to return the testing to Pittsburgh starting initially with manual driving.

Google’s self-driving car system Waymo has already been testing their self-driving system in Pennsylvania for some time now.

Some people are behind the self-driving program returning, including Kaitlyn Laskowsky, who says, “Self-driving Ubers have more sense than 90% of the drivers I’ve encountered in Pittsburgh.”

Some people are against the program, like former CCAC North student and current University of Pittsburgh student Jacqui Sieber. “Personally I don’t trust them,” she said. “Especially in Pittsburgh where the roads aren’t the best. I’d take them to a city with bigger and better roads. Also I enjoy the conversations that I have with my Uber drivers, you hear a lot of stories and customs different from yours.”

Pittsburgh resident Steven Dull is also skeptical of the technology. “It will never work,” he said. “We don’t have the technology.”