Several companies are now following in Waymo’s footsteps and suspending testing of autonomous vehicles. Argo AI, Aurora, GM’s Cruise, Pony.ai and Uber all announced they have suspended driverless vehicle programs in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
Waymo said yesterday it is temporarily suspending its Waymo One ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area and its testing on public roads in California. Both of these services have human safety drivers inside the vehicles. Waymo is moving forward with some of its programs for fully autonomous vehicles, which don’t have human safety drivers, including a program in Phoenix and its UPS delivery services and truck testing.
Here’s how these other companies working on autonomous vehicles are moving forward amid the coronavirus pandemic:
Argo AI: A division of Ford, Argo has halted testing of its autonomous vehicles in all locations. The company was testing in its hometown of Pittsburgh, as well as in Austin, Texas; Miami, Florida; Palo Alto, California; Washington, D.C.; and Dearborn, Michigan.
Aurora: Aurora has suspend its on-road testing and has shut down its office until April 7. Aurora CEO Chris Urmson wrote a blog sharing his thoughts on COVID-19 and its impact on the business. Aurora’s employees are now working from home using virtual tools to continue development.
GM Cruise: Cruise has suspended operations and closed all San Francisco facilities. It plans to reopen the facilities in three weeks. Cruise’s Chief People Officer, Arden Hoffman, said autonomous vehicle test operators will be fully-paid for any days they would’ve worked during this period.
In line with guidance from public health officials, we’ve suspended operations & closed all San Francisco facilities with a plan to reopen in 3 weeks. AV test operators will be fully-paid for any days they would’ve worked during this period. –@ArdenMHoffman1, Chief People Officer
— Cruise (@Cruise) March 16, 2020
Pony.ai: Toyota-backed Pony.ai has paused on-road testing in Fremont and Irvine, Calif. for three weeks. It said it will continue testing its cars in China in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Uber: Uber suspended its autonomous vehicle operations on March 16. Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group is reportedly working from home, using various simulators to continue working on projects.
Uber on March 10 resumed driverless testing in San Francisco. Uber’s self-driving cars are also being tested in autonomous mode in Pittsburgh. Uber is also testing in Dallas, Toronto and Washington DC, but human drivers operate the vehicles at all times.
“Our goal is to help flatten the curve of community spread,” said Uber ATG CEO Eric Meyhofer in a statement. “Following recent guidance from local and state officials in areas where we operate our self-driving vehicles, we are pausing all test track and on-road testing until further notice.”