Uber has taken its biggest step yet towards the resumption of testing autonomous cars after a deadly crash, publishing a lengthy new report about its safety efforts that it hopes will rebuild goodwill with regulators.
But some critics say that the ride-hailing company still has a long way to go before its self-driving cars are ready to share roads with human drivers.
The increasing number of self-driving cars on public roads could accelerate demand for more systematic regulation, said Sanjoy Baruah, an engineering professor at Washington University in St Louis.
“There is a strong likelihood that if testing on public infrastructure continues and other bad things happen there will be a strong consensus for developing some standardisation or documentation for safe practices in the industry,” he said.
Public road testing under the right conditions will ultimately improve the safety of autonomous technology, Prof Baruah said, pointing to Waymo’s plans to begin testing fully driverless cars near its Silicon Valley headquarters.
“Google has done a lot of mapping and data gathering of the areas around their offices. These are cars that are going out in driverless mode in what is a relatively safe environment . . . because there is so much data. The risks are considerably lower, therefore they are able to do more testing and the more experiments they do the more effective these systems are.”