Peer-to-peer ride-sharing service Uber announced that it has hired former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) associate administrator of vehicle safety research Nat Beuse.
“Uber’s approach to self-driving vehicles is an opportunity to make a difference in the safe commercialization of this revolutionary technology, which I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with in recent years,” said Beuse in a statement via Reuters. “It’s clear to me that the team here is dedicated to prioritizing safety.”
Beuse is joining Uber at a crucial time as one of the company’s self-driving vehicles was involved in a fatal crash in March. In that situation, an autonomous Uber SUV hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The safety driver behind the wheel in this incident was reportedly streaming a TV show on her phone when the accident occurred.
Uber self-driving vehicle / Photo Credit: Uber
It is believed that this crash was the first death involving a self-driving vehicle. Due to this incident, Uber temporarily halted its self-driving initiatives across the country.
But last month, Uber requested permission from the state of Pennsylvania to start testing its autonomous vehicles again. Uber said that two safety drivers will be required in its autonomous vehicles and the automatic braking system will be kept active at all times in order to prevent future accidents. And the company also improved its autonomous vehicle software. Uber is still waiting for approval from the government.
Uber is not the only company working on autonomous vehicles to hire talent from the government. Alphabet’s Waymo also recently hired former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Debbie Hersman as the company’s chief safety officer to oversee its product safety program. And GM hired the NHTSA’s chief counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh last year to conduct policy work on its autonomous vehicle program.