Uber terminates 100 safety drivers, slows down self-driving test programs following fatal March crash

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The public’s trust in self-driving vehicles has been shaken lately, and it’s not hard to see why. Numerous Tesla Autopilot crashes have made headlines across the US, and one Uber crash, in particular, caused quite a stir a few months ago.

If you hadn’t heard about the incident already, here’s the gist: on March 18, Uber was conducting a self-driving vehicle pilot program in Tempe, Arizona when a vehicle fatally struck pedestrian Elaine Herzberg.

Police later discovered that the vehicle’s operator, Rafaela Vasquez, was watching Hulu for several seconds prior to the collision, and thus was unable to stop in time.

As you can imagine, Uber was none too pleased about the incident. Though they were quick to settle with the Herzberg’s family to avoid a costly legal battle, the company still halted their test-driving programs until further notice.

Uber isn’t stopping there, though, as the company has begun to lay off dozens of employees. Initially, Uber only let its Phoenix-based drivers go, but now it is reportedly terminating 100 Pittsburgh-based drivers as well.

There’s a silver lining, however: Uber’s new focus seems to be on quality over quantity. By carefully re-hiring only the best drivers, the company can hopefully avoid another tragic incident like the one mentioned previously.

This slower and more methodical testing pace could have a negative impact on their ability to compete with the likes of Waymo, but it seems Uber has decided the increased safety will be worth it in the long run.

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