Uber informed nearly 100 autonomous vehicle operators in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that their jobs will be terminated as the company moves to rethink its self-driving strategy in the wake of the fatal Tempe, Arizona, crash earlier this year that killed a pedestrian.
According to a report by Quartz, Uber confirmed that the jobs in Pittsburgh will be replaced by about 55 so-called “mission specialists” with more advanced autonomous testing skills and the ability to provide more technical insight.
The move comes after Uber suspended self-driving testing at all four sites it operated after a test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian crossing the street in Tempe on March 18. Tempe police said that the operator at the time was watching a video on her phone and failed to see victim Elaine Herzberg walking her bike across the street at night while the vehicle was using Uber's autonomous test mode. Uber said that its system was not designed to brake the vehicle automatically during autonomous testing.
As manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz announce their move into the crowded self-driving taxi market and companies such as Google’s Waymo continue to push forward ahead of the pack, this announcement signifies a setback for Uber, who were previously one of the first movers in the field.