Correction: Uber-Autonomous Vehicles story

DETROIT — In a story Jan. 17 about autonomous vehicles, The Associated Press, relying on incorrect information from Uber, reported erroneously that the company has test vehicles carrying passengers with human backup drivers in Toronto and San Francisco. The company is testing autonomous vehicles in both cities but is not carrying passengers.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Uber nearing autonomous cars without human backup driver

Uber's automous vehicle chief says the service plans to carry passengers in autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers in about the same time frame as competitors, which expect to be on the road at the latest sometime next year

By TOM KRISHER

AP Auto Writer

DETROIT — Uber plans to carry passengers in autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers in about the same time frame as competitors, which expect to be on the road at the latest sometime next year, the service's autonomous vehicle chief said Wednesday.

Advanced Technology Group leader Eric Meyhofer wouldn't give a specific start date but he said Uber won't deploy the driverless cars without human backups unless they are proved safe.

"Once we can check that box, which we call passing the robot driver's license test, that's when we can remove the vehicle operator," Meyhofer said in an interview at an auto industry investors conference Detroit. "We're going aggressively too."

Waymo, the name of the autonomous car unit of Alphabet Inc.'s Google, currently is testing on public roads in the Phoenix area without human backups and plans to carry passengers soon. General Motors Co.'s Cruise Automation has promised to start sometime next year in an unspecified location.

Meyhofer said Volvo XC-90 SUVs are being prepared for the work. Uber Technologies Inc. has 215 test vehicles carrying passengers with human backups in Phoenix and Pittsburgh. They travel 80,000 miles per week gathering data and have given 50,000 paid rides, he said.

Uber also is testing autonomous vehicles in Toronto and San Francisco but says it is not carrying passengers in them.

San Francisco-based Uber started carrying passengers with autonomous vehicles in 2016, first with two Uber employees on board, Meyhofer said. The person in the passenger seat documented the vehicle's behavior while the one on the driver's side would intervene if the car needed help. The vehicles have improved to the point where Uber has removed one of the humans and now the backup driver enters data on a screen in rare cases, Meyhofer said.

The ride service now has 1,600 people working on autonomous vehicles in the four test locations.

Waymo said in November that it plans to carry passengers without human backups in a few months but gave no definite date. The testing would be done in a relatively small area that is covered by detailed three-dimensional maps.

Meyhofer said Uber would start in the same way, gradually expanding the size of the area as mapping is done and vehicles become more capable. Currently the cars are limited to 40 miles per hour, Meyhofer said.

Such testing likely will be done in warm-weather areas that don't get snow. Meyhofer said Uber is still working on use of the cars when snow covers the lane lines and can't be seen by cameras. "That's all well within our scope. It's just not in our scope today," he said.

The developments on the road come as self-driving car technologies are being battled over in court. Waymo has alleged that one of its top self-driving car engineers, Anthony Levandowski, stole its trade secrets before founding a startup that he sold to Uber for $680 million. Uber has denied the allegations.

Related News

Waymo self-driving minivan will start test drives...

Jan 9, 2017

Waymo, Google's self-driving car division, will start testing its new fleet of minivans on public...

Second VW employee arrested over emissions scheme

Jan 10, 2017

The Volkswagen executive who once was in charge of complying with U.S. emissions regulations was...

Honda goes higher-tech with Odyssey. Try the...

Jan 9, 2017

A veteran player in the small but scrappy minivan segment is getting a major upgrade

Ford adding diesel engine, other features to F-150

Jan 10, 2017

For the first time, Ford is offering a diesel engine on its F-150 pickup

Renault F1 team rocked as Vasseur leaves before...

Jan 11, 2017

A few weeks away from proudly unveiling its new car for the 2017 Formula One season, French...

US gov't accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating on...

Jan 13, 2017

The U.S. government is accusing Fiat Chrysler of failing to disclose software in some of its...

Sign up now!

Action Swift is your fighting sports news site featuring boxing, fencing, martial arts, mixed martial arts and sumo. It’s time for some action!

Contact us: sales[at]actionswift.com