Uber ATG announced in a blog post last week that it is restarting its self-driving car tests in Pittsburgh, along with manual driving tests in San Francisco and Toronto.
Uber has been telegraphing this return for weeks, and it’s good to see the changes the company has made since one of its autonomous vehicles fatally collided with an Arizona pedestrian last spring.
The trigger for returning vehicles to the road appears to have been approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. This approval was not required — Pennsylvania law places no restrictions on self-driving cars — but Uber solicited the approval nonetheless. Presumably the company plans to work more closely with regulators than it has in the past.
When Uber shut down self-driving operations last spring, it had recorded approximately 2 million autonomously-driven miles. That put it solidly in second place, behind Waymo’s then-8 million miles and ahead of the 500,000 or so miles driven by Cruise.
Since then, everyone else has kept testing while Uber has been on pause. The latest numbers aren’t publicly available, but Waymo announced 12 million autonomous miles a few months ago, and Cruise may well have passed Uber’s 2 million miles by this point.
It’s still early days, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes Uber to get back into the full swing of testing and development.