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Toyota halts its self-driving car testing in wake of Uber crash

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‘We feel the incident may have an emotional effect on our test drivers’

Image: Toyota Research Institute

Toyota halted the testing of its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the US in the wake of a deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber in Arizona Sunday night. According to Bloomberg, the Japanese auto giant said it would temporarily cease testing its “Chauffeur” program out of respect for its test drivers.

“Toyota Research Institute does not have firsthand information on the tragic traffic fatality in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, March 18,” a Toyota spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. “Our thoughts are first and foremost with the victim’s family.”

He added, “We cannot speculate on the cause of the incident or what it may mean to the automated driving industry going forward. Because we feel the incident may have an emotional effect on our test drivers, we have decided to temporarily pause our Chauffeur mode testing on public roads.”

Toyota Research Institute, the automaker’s Silicon Valley arm, has been conducting on-road testing of the latest version of its autonomous vehicles in California and Michigan since the beginning of the year. Toyota has also been in talks with Uber about purchasing the ride-hail company’s self-driving software before the deadly crash. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently posted a photo on Twitter of himself with Toyota president Akio Toyoda at the automaker’s headquarters.

Other automakers with ties to Uber, like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, have so far declined to comment on the crash or the state of their partnerships with the ride-hailing company. There are dozens of on-road self-driving vehicle tests going on around the country. Over 40 companies have permits to test autonomous vehicles in California.

Some safety advocates have called for a national moratorium on AV testing on public roads after a woman was killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Arizona. Uber halted all of its autonomous testing in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto while law enforcement investigates the crash.