The fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle operated by the ride-hailing service Uber has prompted one automaker to temporarily halt its testing of self-driving cars on public roads.
The accident on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona, prompted Uber to halt its tests on the streets of four cities: Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. On Tuesday, Toyota Motor said that it, too, was suspending its tests of autonomous vehicles on public roads near its research center in Ann Arbor, Michigan., and in the San Francisco area.
Toyota has a fleet of test vehicles that can drive themselves, although engineers and safety drivers ride along to take control if necessary — the same arrangement that was used in the Uber vehicle that fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe.
“We’ve told our drivers to take a couple of days off so we can assess the situation,” said Rick Bourgoise, a Toyota spokesman.
The company is continuing to test autonomous vehicles at three enclosed proving grounds – two in Ann Arbor that are affiliated with the University of Michigan, and another known as GoMentum Station, a former naval weapons station in Concord, California.
Two other carmakers, Ford Motor and General Motors, are still performing tests of their self-driving cars on public roads. Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Lyft, Uber’s chief rival in the ride-hailing sector, declined to comment on the status of their testing programs on Tuesday.
Those companies are racing to put autonomous vehicles into commercial ride and delivery fleets within a few years. G.M. aims to start a ride-hailing service by the end of 2019 using a car it has developed, called the Cruise AV, that has no steering wheel or pedals. Ford hopes to have a similar vehicle in mass production by 2021.
After the Tempe accident, G.M. said Tuesday, “our plans to commercially launch in dense urban environments in 2019 remain unchanged but, as we’ve said from the start, we will not launch until we are satisfied that it is safe to do so.”