Uber restarts modified self-driving testing in Toronto focused on AI
The Uber app is displayed on an iPhone as taxi drivers wait for passengers at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck)
TORONTO -- Uber Technologies Inc. says its self-driving vehicles have returned to the streets of Toronto in a modified program after the company halted testing earlier this year when one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
The company says the limited relaunch of testing in the Toronto area will have a driver controlling the vehicle at all times and include a second operator as a precaution. The Arizona crash in March happened while a test driver was streaming a television show.
Raquel Urtasun, chief scientist at Uber Advanced Technologies Group in Toronto, says that since the incident the company looked at all of its processes and implemented numerous safety measures.
Rather than focus on testing of autonomous driving abilities, Toronto's program is geared toward development of the company's artificial intelligence systems, including map development.
Self-driving vehicles generally require high-definition road maps to operate and supplement the various on-board sensors. Uber says it's working to build technology that will allow map building in real-time to speed up the mapping process.
Uber says it has also restarted testing in Pittsburgh, where vehicles will be operated in a fully autonomous mode with two safety operators, and in San Francisco where drivers will control the car similarly to the Toronto program.