Uber: Self-driving cars will be back on Pittsburgh streets today

The city and Uber said they’ll stay committed “to keep lines of communication open” about traffic incidents involving self-driving cars.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
MJ Slaby

Updated: 2:55 p.m.

Uber’s self-driving cars will return to Pittsburgh’s streets Monday, the company said this afternoon.

Uber pulled its self-driving cars from the streets Saturday following a Friday crash in Tempe, Ariz., that put the autonomous Volvo on its side. The company said Monday afternoon that it is confident returning the cars to the road and halted operations to look into what happened in the Tempe crash.

Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, and Alex Pazuchanics, policy coordinator for the city, spoke with Uber officials on Monday afternoon, mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty told The Incline. (Peduto was originally supposed to be on the call, but that changed, McNulty said.)

During the call, Uber offered to share the results of an investigation by Tempe police’s accident investigation team once it is complete, McNulty said. The city and Uber also stressed their commitment “to keep lines of communication open should further traffic incidents happen here or elsewhere,” he said.

Pittsburgh officials reached out to Uber on Saturday to arrange the call to “discuss the incident and how it might affect their autonomous vehicle pilot program in Pittsburgh,” McNulty said.

As of Monday morning, self-driving Ubers were still grounded in Arizona and Pittsburgh, where the public can hail rides in the autonomous vehicles, but the company had started testing again in San Francisco, where the cars are not used for ride-sharing, an Uber spokeswoman said. According to Uber, the self-driving cars will return to Arizona streets later today as well.

The Tempe, Ariz., crash happened when another car failed to yield and hit the Uber. The Volvo, which was in self-driving mode, rolled on its side. No one was seriously hurt and there were no backseat passengers in the vehicle, per Uber.

Uber recently marked six months of its pilot program using self-driving cars to pick up Pittsburghers in nine neighborhoods. Since the public rides started here, there have been no reportable incidents involving self-driving Uber vehicles, Pittsburgh public safety spokeswoman Emily Schaffer said Friday. Collisions are generally reported to police only if there is a physical injury or damage to a vehicle.