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Uber back on the road testing self-driving SUVs after deadly Arizona crash

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Uber has returned its self-driving vehicles to U.S. roads for further development, after a nine-month suspension brought on by a deadly crash during a test in Arizona.

The ride-hailing company said Thursday it will start with "a couple" autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, before expanding its fleet.

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"Today we are resuming on-road testing of self-driving operations in Pittsburgh," Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a blog post. "This follows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's approval and months of vehicle testing on our track and manual driving on Pittsburgh streets."

Uber suspended testing of the self-driving vehicles in May after one killed a pedestrian on a bicycle near Phoenix. A safety driver who monitors the auto controls was behind the wheel, but wasn't paying attention when the Volvo sport-utility vehicle ran into the woman.

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Uber was forced to pull their autonomous SUVs from Arizona roads when the state revoked its permit to perform the tests.

The ride-sharing company also said Thursday it's driving special vehicles in San Francisco to gather data for autonomous development. It's not testing self-driving vehicles anywhere in California, though, because it doesn't have a permit. Similar testing is being done in Toronto.

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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he has an "open dialogue" with Uber to make sure the returning vehicles are safe.

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"Before any vehicles are on public roads, they must pass a series of more than 70 scenarios without safety-related failures on our test track," Meyhofer said. "We are confident we've met that bar as we reintroduce self-driving vehicles to Pittsburgh roadways.

"We will continue to prioritize safety and proactively communicate our progress until we've built a self-driving system that lives up to the promise of making transportation safer and more affordable for everyone."

Other companies are also testing self-driving vehicles in Pennsylvania, including Aurora Innovation, Argo AI, Carnegie Mellon University and Qualcomm Technologies. Aptiv is seeking authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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