Uber has let go all (about 100) of its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Quartz reports and has been confirmed by TechCrunch. This comes after Uber officially pulled the plug on its operations in Arizona in May, following a fatal car crash involving one of its autonomous vehicles in March.
Despite how this may initially look, Uber is still working on resuming autonomous vehicle testing in Pittsburgh this summer. Those affected by the layoffs can apply for one of roughly 55 new advanced operator positions that Uber calls Mission Specialists in either San Francisco or Pittsburgh. Mission Specialists are trained for on-road and test track operations, and are responsible for giving feedback to developers. There are also other open roles that don’t involve the operation of self-driving cars.
“Our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Uber suspended its self-driving car operations in all markets following the fatal Tempe, Arizona crash, but operators were still employed Uber and receiving regular pay. Now, those vehicle operators get first priority at applying for a Mission Specialist role, which requires some more technical expertise.
In California, Uber decided in March not to re-apply for its self-driving car permit in the state, but Uber is still in fact intending to resume testing in the state at some point. A couple of months later at Uber’s Elevate conference, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he expected self-driving cars to hit the streets again within the next few months. Self-driving testing is also on hold in Toronto, but it seems that the employees behind the wheel were already in Mission Specialist-like roles.
You can read more of TechCrunch’s coverage of Uber’s autonomous driving below.