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Companies put brakes on autonomous vehicle testing amid COVID-19 crisis

Companies put brakes on autonomous vehicle testing amid COVID-19 crisis article image

Several companies in the US are following a recent move by Waymo to suspend testing of autonomous vehicles as the number of coronavirus cases continues to spiral.

Argo AI, Aurora, GM’s Cruise, Pony.ai and Uber all announced they have suspended driverless vehicle programs in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Waymo, an Alphabet-owned company, announced it is temporarily suspending its Waymo One ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area and its testing on public roads in California.

Both of these services have human safety drivers inside the vehicles. Waymo is moving forward with some of its programs for fully autonomous vehicles, which don’t have human safety drivers, including a program in Phoenix and its UPS delivery services and truck testing.Waymo4

And other companies have been quick to follow suit.

  • Argo AI, a division of Ford, has halted testing of its autonomous vehicles in all locations.
  • Aurora has suspended its on-road testing and has shut down its office until April 7.
  • GM Cruise has suspended operations and closed all San Francisco facilities for at least the next three weeks.
  • Toyota-backed Pony.ai has paused on-road testing in California for three weeks. However, the company says it will continue testing its cars in China in Beijing and Guangzhou.
  • Uber suspended its autonomous vehicle operations last week. Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group is reportedly working from home, using various simulators to continue working on projects. The company has resumed driverless testing in San Francisco. It’s self-driving cars are also being tested in autonomous mode in Pittsburgh.

Waymo recently raised $2.25 billion in its first external round of funding to expand its staff and continue developing self-driving software and hardware. The funding round is among the largest so far around self-driving cars.

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