Toyota halts self-driving car tests on public roads

Toyota halts self-driving car tests on public roads
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Toyota has reportedly suspended its self-driving car tests on public roads in the United States in response to the death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed earlier this week by an autonomous Uber vehicle.

"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," a Toyota spokesman told The Dallas Morning News.

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The spokesman told the newspaper that Toyota was conducting autonomous vehicle testing for its “Chauffeur” program in California and Michigan.

Uber halted its own testing of autonomous cars in several North American cities after one of its self-driving vehicles hit and killed a woman early Monday morning in Tempe, Ariz.

ABC affiliate KNXV reported that the vehicle had been in self-driving mode with an operator in the car at the time of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, which has reignited a debate in Congress over autonomous vehicles, as legislation that would speed up the development and testing of self-driving cars remains stalled in the Senate.

Several Democratic senators prior to the crash expressed safety concerns to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneUnemployment debate sparks GOP divisions Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal MORE (R-S.D.) and Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersTensions flare as GOP's Biden probe ramps up  House committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery MORE (D-Mich.) in a letter last week.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war Markey offers apology to family of unarmed Black teen amid criticism The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality MORE (D-Mass.), who signed that letter, called for “robust” safety regulations in response to the incident in Arizona.

“If these technologies are to reap their purported safety, efficiency and environmental benefits, we must have robust safety, cybersecurity and privacy rules in place before these vehicles are traveling our roadways to prevent such tragedies from occurring,” Markey said in a statement.

“I’m committed to work with my Senate colleagues on developing a comprehensive autonomous vehicle legislative package that ensures these important protections are included,” he said.