Uber ignites self-driving car operations in Dallas

The ride-hailing company is already testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
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Uber uses a test track with dummies to train its human drivers in how to control self-driving cars.


Uber's self-driving car operations are growing. The company said Tuesday that the newest city where it'll be testing its autonomous vehicles is Dallas. This is Uber's first major expansion in its self-driving car division since a fatal crash in Arizona in March 2018.

Best known for its ride-hailing service, Uber has been testing self-driving cars since 2016. In Dallas, Uber's vehicles won't be operating in full autonomous mode just yet. Instead, the company said, each car be driven by a human who'll maintain control at all times. This type of driving allows the cars' systems to map city streets and helps ready the vehicles for the open road.

"Dallas also offers us the opportunity to explore a different type of road network for our self-driving technology," Austin Geidt, head of Uber's autonomous vehicle strategy, wrote in a blog post. "The city's modern infrastructure, unique traffic patterns, road characteristics, and climate will offer new information that can inform our ongoing engineering efforts." 

Uber already has self-driving car operations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The company announced in August that it was expanding its Dallas office and planned to bring thousands of jobs to the city. Geidt said Uber will begin testing its self-driving cars in Dallas in early November. 

The company pulled all its autonomous vehicles from public roads in 2018 after the fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona. The crash was the first known pedestrian death caused by a vehicle in full autonomous mode. At that time, Uber's self-driving program fell under the scrutiny of local police, lawmakers and federal investigators and the company shuttered its self-driving car operations in Arizona. Uber restarted on-road testing again last December. 

"We're on a mission to deliver safe self-driving technology to Uber riders around the world," Geidt said. "In order to arrive at that future, we must approach building this technology thoughtfully and with a strong sense of responsibility to the communities where we operate, which our team is dedicated to doing every day."