Companies are suspending testing of autonomous vehicles to help stop the spread of coronavirus, according to Reuters. Waymo, Cruise, and Uber are among those that stopped testing autonomous vehicles because they require a backup driver.
- Companies are suspending autonomous vehicle testing due to the coronavirus.
- The problem is the need for these vehicles to have a backup driver.
- The longer these suspensions last, the more they could impact development.
Waymo announced the news on Tuesday, saying it was suspending its autonomous taxi service in Phoenix because of the requirement for a backup driver. Fully automated services, however, were scheduled to continue.
Waymo is just one of the companies suspending autonomous vehicle tests. (Photo: Getty Images)
Numerous companies are temporarily halting testing
It also suspended testing in California, a state where 65 companies have autonomous testing permits, all of which require a backup driver. The California DMV indicated that it had contacted permit holders and that they were complying with health recommendations.
Cruise, a unit of General Motors, didn’t just suspend testing of its autonomous vehicles. It also closed all its San Francisco facilities for three weeks. Test operators might not be working, but the company said they will be paid for the days they would have worked during the closure.
Pony.ai suspended its autonomous taxi service in Fremont and Irvine California for three weeks. The company is still conducting tests, however, with cars on the road in the Beijing and Guangzhou, China.
Argo, which is a unit of Ford, paused testing operations, and even Uber is bringing a halt to its autonomous testing. This includes both its test track and on-road testing.
It’s a lengthy list of businesses and includes the most well-known names in the field. While testing is expected to pick back up once the coronavirus threat subsides, the virus has pressed the pause button on testing across the industry.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While these shutdowns are temporary, they’re far-reaching. A short stoppage won’t have a major impact on the development of autonomous technologies, but a longer shutdown could delay the approval and implementation of new autonomous features.