Governor directs ADOT to suspend Uber's ability to test autonomous cars on AZ roads
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Governor Doug Ducey has directed the ADOT to suspend Uber's ability to test and operate autonomous cars on Arizona's public roadways, indefinitely.
The announcement was made Monday afternoon, with officials from the Governor's Office releasing a letter Gov. Ducey wrote to Uber's CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, explaining the decision.
The letter was released a week after a deadly incident involving a self-driving Uber car that was operating in autonomous mode. That crash, which is under investigation, was referenced in the Governor's letter to Khosrowshahi.
"I found the video the be disturbing and alarming, and it raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona," wrote Gov. Ducey, in reference to a video Tempe Police released last week, showing the moments, inside and outside of the self-driving car, leading up to the deadly crash.
"As governor, my top priority is public safety. Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona's approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the State of Arizona," wrote Gov. Ducey. "The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation."
Gov. Ducey ended the letter by writing "Arizona will not tolerate any less than an unequivocal commitment to public safety."
In response, an Uber spokesperson issued a statement, reading:
"We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week. We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the Governor's office to address any concerns they have."
According to the Associated press, the move by Gov. Ducey comes days after The New York Times reported that the company's own documents showed the car testing program was rife with issues. The documents showed trouble with driving through construction zones and requiring far more human intervention than competing companies.
Uber's arrival to Arizona was once hailed as a big win for Goc. Ducey, who staked his leadership on a pro-business reputation.
"We welcome this type of testing," said Goc. Ducey in 2017. "We embrace this technology."
After the crash, experts said Arizona is still the ideal testing ground.
"This is a good environment in many ways," said Ashraf Gaffar, a professor at Arizona State University's Polytechnic Campus, located in the East Valley. "Good weather. Good streets. Low traffic, so this is really somewhere where we want to test."
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.