According to a video released this week on YouTube by Bloomberg TV Markets and Finance, Uber could be restarting testing on self-driving cars within the next few months. The news was announced by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at the Uber Elevate Event in Los Angeles during an interview by Bloomberg News reporter Brad Stone.
In the video, Stone can be seen asking Khosrowshahi if he had any sense of when the ride-sharing company would start self-driving again. “It will be within the next few months. I don’t know, and the time will be right when the time is right because we’re doing a top to bottom safety review, both internally and with independent safety folks,” Khosrowshahi answered.
A focus on safety
Khosrowshahi continuously drove the importance of safety during the interview insisting that safety could not be sacrificed and “needs to come first.” The CEO also said the company made the decision to ground their autonomous fleet.
Uber did suspend testing on its self-driving fleet last March after one of its vehicles was involved in a deadly crash in Arizona. However, the CEO, eager to prove the company’s dedication to security, did not mention that the state of Arizona also gave an order to halt testing.
Khosrowshahi also joked regarding the National Transportation Safety Board's current review. “We will not be tweeting ahead of their findings,” quipped the CEO.
The comment was very likely a small jab at Tesla CEO Elon Musk whose tweets about the Board's reviews before the issuance of reports have been labeled as aggressive and hostile.
A bright future ahead
Khosrowshahi seemed confident that Uber has a bright future despite recent setbacks and negative coverage. “We will win because of the talent of the technical people that we have in our offices,” said the optimistic CEO.
Khosrowshahi did go on to explain that the very nature of Uber’s forward-looking model does come with challenges. The CEO said the complications stemmed from being “at the intersection of the digital and physical world” making it hard to combine these experiences in a delightful, dependable and affordable way.
Khosrowshahi was also asked some controversial questions which he handled with grace. Regarding reports that internal corporate pressure may have contributed to Uber engineers moving too fast and possibly resulting in the crash, the CEO said that there was a balance to maintain.
“You want to push teams to be ambitious, you want to push teams to push them to innovate at the fringes. You want to get teams to be uncomfortable, but at the same time you really have to check yourself and go back to first principles and ask yourself: are we doing the right thing?, are we pushing too hard? and is it coming at the cost of safety? and if it is, then you have to take a step back,” explained the CEO.
The response felt like an honest self-reflective approach to the company’s recent issues. Uber may come out of this situation a better more safety-focused firm after all.