Uber will be closing its self-driving vehicle testing operations in Arizona, due to mounting public pressure following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles earlier this year, multiple news outlets report.
In a leaked email from Uber executive Eric Meyhofer, employees at the Arizona testing facility were told that Uber will be shifting its focus to testing vehicles in Pittsburg and San Francisco, where the company is headquartered.
According to the Arizona Republic, about 200 Uber employees in Arizona, most of them vehicle drivers, will lose their jobs.
In the email, Meyhofer said the decision to shutter the program in Arizona was a "tough call." He also said that Uber will be testing its vehicles in a "much more limited way" in the future.
Uber originally halted its autonomous vehicle testing nationwide following the March incident, when a self-driving vehicle, which was in autonomous mode at the time, struck and hit a pedestrian crossing the street. Although there was a driver inside, footage from the vehicle showed she was not looking at the road when the incident occurred.
Following the accident, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey instructed his state's Department of Transportation to suspend Uber's permits. Ducey sent a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi calling the video of the incident “disturbing and alarming.”
Uber originally moved most of its self-driving operations, about 200 of its vehicles and hundreds of employees, to Arizona after California regulators shut down operations for lack of proper permits.
While Uber indicated it is working to get its test vehicles back on the road, the technology company does not currently have a permit to test its vehicles in California. Uber’s permit with the California Department of Motor Vehicles expired March 31, and the company did not seek to renew it.
The March accident is still under investigation by Tempe, Ariz., police and the National Transportation Safety Board, The Verge reports.
Originally posted on Auto Rental News