California says goodbye to Uber's driverless cars

Governor Ducey has suspended Uber from testing self-driving vehicles after a deadly pedestrian crash

In December 2016, after California revoked the registration of Uber's 16 self-driving test cars, the company transported the cars to Arizona, where Ducey publicly welcomed them.

"In the best interests of the people of my state, I have directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to suspend Uber's ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona's public roadways", Ducey's letter reads, in part.

Last week, for the first time, a pedestrian was killed by one of Uber's self-driving cars.

Uber said it withdrew its California application on Friday because it wouldn't have been able to respond to questions from the state's regulators until it had time to review the findings of the investigation in Arizona.

Autonomous cars use radar, cameras and LiDAR to detect obstacles and pedestrians in their path. Reuters reports that Uber scaled back to a single LiDAR sensor on the Volvo test cars the company now uses in its fleets.

"We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident", an Uber spokesperson said, in a statement.

"Given this, we chose to not reapply for a California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future", the statement concluded.

Uber's Tempe crash has raised novel legal questions about who could be held liable for a auto driving in autonomous mode. The incident brought much attention to the safety of testing self-driving vehicles on public streets in the U.S. After that fatality, the ride-hailing company temporarily suspended its driverless vehicle testing in Tempe, Pittsburgh, Toronto and San Francisco, the four cities where it operates the cars.

The Tempe Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched investigations into the crash. Vehicles operated by Waymo, Google's sister company working on autonomous tech, do almost 5,600 miles.

A self-driving Uber's killing of an Arizona pedestrian this month may have been related to the company's decision two years ago to scale back safety sensors used to detect objects in the road, according to a report. As such, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a letter to Uber which he later released to the public. While that's the sole LiDAR sensor on Uber's current fleet of autonomous vehicles, other cars typically have smaller sensors placed on the sides and front to help compensate for the blind spots of the main, rooftop one.

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