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Uber Fires 100 Self-Driving Vehicle Researchers


July 15, 2018

July 12, 2018 (alphr.com) According to an online article from alphr.com, ridesharing company Uber has fired 100 employees on its self-driving vehicle research team.

The move comes about five months after one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Right after the fatal crash, Arizona suspended the program, and Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing altogether. 

In the meantime, Uber kept everyone on the payroll, pending a restart of the vehicle testing. Rumors have recently surfaced that Uber is in the process of resuming its autonomous vehicle program (though not in Arizona), and the company has done some reconfiguring. It says the axing of 100 positions is an effort to eliminating redundancies, and that the company plans to replace the roles with 55 mission specialists — positions that require a more technical skill set. 

A spokesperson for Uber commented on the reconfiguration: “Our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads.”

While Uber seems set on continuing its autonomous mission — which is, to a certain extent, not surprising, given the amount of money the company has invested in the endeavor — members of the public might not be as enthusiastic. Particularly in light of reports that the Tempe Uber vehicle sensed Herzberg in the street but ignored her, vehicle automation has become increasingly frightening to many people. It’s difficult to digest the potential for cars themselves to decide when to and when not to stop for pedestrians. 

But regardless of public sentiment, Uber seems dedicated to forging ahead. 

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Sources: Cited in the article

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