Autonomous vehicles from Uber are back on the road in San Francisco and Toronto, but the cars are being operated in manual mode by actual drivers.
The ride-hailing company earlier this week was given the green light by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to resume tests of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Those road tests can be with vehicles running in fully autonomous mode, though with two backup drivers just in case.
The idea of the tests is essentially to allow vehicles to "learn" as they are driven around the streets.
“Manual driving introduces new scenarios that our system will encounter and allows us to recreate them in a virtual world or on the test track to improve system performance,” stated Eric Meyhofer, head of the Uber Advanced Technologies Group in a blog post. “This is an important step towards self-driving. We will only pursue a return to road for self-driving in these cities in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities.”
Uber had halted its public trials of self-driving cars after a traffic fatality involving an Uber car running in fully autonomous mode in Arizona. Since then, Uber and Volvo have integrated the emergency braking system technologies of Uber and those in the Volvo vehicles used in the trials.
Uber and ride-hailing competitor Lyft are both reportedly planning initial public offerings next year.