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Uber shuts down self-driving testing in Arizona; lays off 300

By Danielle Haynes
Uber shuts down self-driving testing in Arizona; lays off 300
Uber said it will concentrate its self-driving efforts in San Francisco and Pittsburgh after pulling out of Arizona. File Photo by Will Oliver/EPA-EFE

May 23 (UPI) -- Uber announced Wednesday it is pulling its self-driving vehicle tests from Arizona after the state withdrew its permit over a deadly crash earlier this year.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed an internal memo Eric Meyhofer, the head of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, sent to Arizona employees about the decision. The company said it will lay off 300 workers at its Arizona division.

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"We've made the tough call to wind down operations in Phoenix," Meyhofer said in the memo. "This is the best path forward as we work to get back on the road as soon as possible."

The company said it will focus its self-driving research on its locations in San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a woman riding a bicycle in Tempe, Ariz. It was the first death caused by a self-driving vehicle.

Uber halted its self-driving program in the wake of the crash and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey pulled Uber's license to test its self-driving cars anywhere in the state.

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A vehicle operator was in the driver's seat of the vehicle involved in the Tempe crash. Most of the people affected by the layoffs will be vehicle operators.

"We're committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future," Uber said in a statement. "In the meantime, we remain focused on our top-to-bottom safety review, having brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture."

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