Toyota suspends public autonomous testing in US following Uber crash
The automaker pauses testing, citing "an emotional effect on our test drivers."
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Toyota will temporarily suspend all autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in the US, following Sunday's fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona involving an Uber operating in self-driving mode. This pause affects test vehicles that operate in what Toyota calls "chauffeur" mode, its term for autonomous driving.
The Japanese automaker said in a statement:
"Toyota Research Institute does not have firsthand information on the tragic traffic fatality in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, March 18. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the victim's family.
"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."
This decision was made by the Silicon Valley-based Toyota Research Institute and only concerns autonomous testing on US roads. Testing of self-driving Toyota prototypes will continue in Japan, Automotive News reports. Toyota has not indicated when it will resume testing on US roads.
As we noted yesterday, the Tempe crash could have a huge impact on autonomous development. Toyota is the first company beyond Uber to suspend testing following the accident. Hyundai exec Yoon Sung-hoon has called for caution in autonomous testing, Bloomberg reports. "We don't know other carmakers' standards on autonomous cars, but ours are not lax," he told the site.