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Uber is pulling plug on self-driving tests in Arizona

(Twitter Photo)

PHOENIX — Months after a fatal accident in which an Uber in self-driving mode hit a pedestrian in Tempe, the company said Wednesday it was formally ending the tests in Arizona.

The company said it was in the process of winding down its Arizona operations, which would take several weeks. The overall self-driving program would continue in other cities.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had already ordered the driverless road tests to stop in late March after the death of a woman struck during an Uber test.

The company said in a statement, “We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future. In the meantime, we remain focused on our top-to-bottom safety review, having brought on former (National Transportation Safety Board) Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.”

An Uber employee was sitting in the driver’s seat but the car was operating in autonomous mode near Mill Avenue and Curry Road in Tempe.

Uber said it planned to continue talking with Ducey and was committed to Arizona. About 300 jobs were going to be lost. They would be offered outplacement services.

Testing had also been halted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California, but was set to resume in Pittsburgh.

While the federal government has voluntary guidelines for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles, many states, including Michigan and Arizona, have taken a largely hands-off approach, hoping to gain jobs from the new technology.

Ducey used light regulations to entice Uber to the state after the company had a shaky rollout of test cars in San Francisco. Arizona has no reporting requirements.

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