In the wake of the death of a woman after being struck by a self-driving Uber test vehicle, Arizona governor Doug Ducey announced the Arizona Department of Transportation has commanded Uber suspend testing of its autonomous vehicles in the state.
The recent fatal crash involving a self-driving uber test vehicle has had widespread repercussions for the self-driving car industry. Tech companies saw recent gains erased over news that testing has been halted by several companies including Uber and Nvidia. Worries over self-driving car technology contributed to a 200 point plunge for the tech-rich Nasdaq index ending the day down 2.9%.
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Nvidia, a massive supplier of autonomous driving technology, was one of the companies hit the hardest by recent events and announced they would be halting self-driving tests on public roads. Tesla stock also saw a sharp drop of 8%, the lowest price in a year. Arizona governor Doug Ducey has been a supporter of the technology and encouraged companies like Uber to test their vehicles in Arizona.
In the wake of the fatal crash, governor Doucey has taken a much different stance and banned future testing of self-driving technology. The ban is a far stretch from his previous position in 2015 when he signed an executive order telling all state agencies to "undertake any necessary steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving cars."
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Now, the future of Uber's self-driving car program is uncertain as Arizona adds itself to the growing list of states who have outlawed self-driving vehicles on their roads. Uber voluntarily suspended all testing for the foreseeable future including in California saying, "We decided to not reapply for a California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future."
The California DMV is expected to begin reviewing permit applications for companies interested in launching self-driving car tests but the recent fatal crash has cast a shadow on the future of the technology. "The DMV is allowed to begin issuing driverless testing and/or deployment permits on April 2, but that doesn't mean a manufacturer will meet the requirements or if we will approve them," a DMV spokesperson said.
A recent statement from Aptiv PLC, the company that makes the collision-avoidance technology in Volvos, said the safety feature built into the vehicle that struck and killed a woman was turned off. An Aptiv PLC spokesperson said, "We don’t want people to be confused or think it was a failure of the technology that we supply for Volvo because that’s not the case. The Volvo XC90’s standard advanced driver-assistance system ‘has nothing to do’ with the Uber test vehicle’s autonomous driving system."
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