Washington DC - Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi says the company still believes in the prospects for autonomous transport, even after one of its self-driving vehicles was involved in a fatal crash in Arizona in March.
Elaine Herzberg was killed after being hit by an Uber self-driving SUV while walking across a street in Phoenix, leading the company to suspend testing of self-driving vehicles.
Khosrowshahi wouldn't say when the company might resume testing or what might have gone wrong; he said the company was cooperating with federal investigators and dealing "very seriously" with the incident.
The crash has raised questions about the lack of clear safety standards for such vehicles but, speaking at a transport forum, Khosrowshahi said Uber was still betting on the technology in the long term.
He said Uber considered autonomous vehicles "part of the solution" and in the long-term key to eliminating individual car ownership.
"We believe in it; autonomous at maturity will be safer," he insisted, adding that Uber's interest in investing in bike sharing and public transport should not be interpreted as a move away from self-driving cars.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
"They are a neutral party," said Khosrowshahi. "They understand this. We'll figure out what to do afterwards."
Arizona's governor suspended Uber's permission to test self-driving cars on public roads in the state following the crash. Arizona had been a key hub for Uber's autonomous project, with about half the company's 200 self-driving cars and a staff of hundreds.
At the time governor Doug Ducey called a video of the incident "disturbing and alarming" and the crash "an unquestionable failure".Reuters