Following Waymo’s announcement that it could restrict its ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona and autonomous automotive testing on public California roads in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of opponents adopted related measures this week. Uber, GM’s Cruise, Aurora, Argo AI, and Pony.ai are among the many firms which have suspended driverless car packages within the hopes of limiting contact between drivers and riders.
“Our goal is to help flatten the curve of community spread,” mentioned Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) CEO Eric Meyhofer in an announcement. “Following recent guidance from local and state officials in areas where we operate our self-driving vehicles, we are pausing all test track and on-road testing until further notice.”
Uber halted operations on March 16, and the corporate instructed VentureBeat that the ATG workforce continues to execute on initiatives from house with offline digital simulation instruments like Autonomous Visualization System and VerCD. Uber had resumed autonomous car testing in San Francisco on March 10 over a month after it obtained a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) license, and it beforehand was working fleets manually in Dallas, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and our community is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we have asked Cruisers across all our locations who can conduct their work remotely to do so until further notice.” –@ArdenMHoffman1, Chief People Officer
— Cruise (@Cruise) March 9, 2020
Cruise’s chief individuals officer Arden Hoffman mentioned that Cruise has suspended operations and closed all San Francisco amenities in the meanwhile, with a plan to reopen them in three weeks’ time. (The firm confirmed that it plans to pay autonomous car operators throughout the interval.) One of the packages affected is a ride-hailing pilot in San Francisco known as Cruise Anywhere that permits Cruise staff to make use of an app to get round mapped areas.
Aurora VP of operations Greg Zanghi instructed VentureBeat that Aurora’s total workforce — together with its take a look at drivers — are working from house and that they’ll proceed to receives a commission. In lieu of on-the-road checks, the corporate will use digital programs like its Virtual Test Suite to proceed to gas growth and testing efforts.
“We recognize that this is an entirely unprecedented situation with unique challenges and we all need to come together and support one another,” mentioned Zanghi. “While we continue to strive for work excellence, families come first and we are encouraging everyone to do what is needed to take care of their families. Our top priority is keeping our community safe and healthy, while also keeping our teams feeling supported, motivated, and connected.”
As for Argo AI, a spokesperson instructed VentureBeat that whereas it hasn’t skilled a “significant impact” because of the coronavirus, it has taken steps to permit earn a living from home, together with pausing automotive testing operations in any respect of its areas. Argo was conducting testing in Pittsburgh, the place it’s primarily based, in addition to in Austin, Miami, Palo Alto, Washington, D.C. and Dearborn, Michigan.
“Argo AI places the highest priority on ensuring our employees and contractors have a safe, secure and healthy work environment,” mentioned the spokesperson.
Pony.ai determined to droop its public PonyPilot service for 3 weeks beginning March 16 and its autonomous car commuter pilot for the Fremont authorities. The firm just lately launched each packages following a multi-month robo-taxi service in Irvine, California dubbed BotRide, in partnership with Hyundai (which supplied ONA Electric SUVs) and Via (which provided the passenger reserving and project logistics).
Tech big Baidu has additionally ceased all self-driving actions in California, following Santa Clara county tips.
1/5 In the curiosity of the well being and security of our riders and the complete Waymo neighborhood, we’re pausing our Waymo One service with educated drivers in Metro Phoenix for now as we proceed to look at COVID-19 developments.
— Waymo (@Waymo) March 17, 2020
Concern over the unfold of the novel coronavirus was the chief motivator behind the industry-wide pauses in autonomous car testing. Waymo mentioned it made its resolution “in the interest of the health and safety of our riders and the entire Waymo community,” and after a minimum of one incident of a human security driver in a Waymo car refusing to select up a passenger as a result of a neighborhood case of COVID-19 had been reported. (Waymo continues to select up passengers as a part of its Waymo One program in Pheonix with a small variety of fully driverless automobiles, nonetheless.)
In associated information, Uber and Lyft right this moment mentioned they might cease permitting prospects to order shared rides with a purpose to stop an infection. Uber prompt that drivers roll down home windows to “improve ventilation” and requested riders to clean their fingers earlier than and after coming into automobiles.
In the U.S. on the time of writing, the whole variety of coronavirus instances and deaths stood at 4,226 and 75, respectively, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.