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Consumer Group Wants Details About Uber’s Driverless Car Project


Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called on Uber Technologies Inc. to make public information about crashes involving driverless cars that the company is testing on Pittsburgh roads.

“You have opted to use public roads as your laboratory and with that comes a responsibility to fully disclose exactly what you are doing both when things go right and when they inevitably go wrong,” John Simpson, privacy project director at the Santa Monica, Calif.-based group, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.

Simpson called on Uber to publicly report any crashes of the test vehicles since Pennsylvania does not require companies to do so. There is a bill in the Pennsylvania State Senate that would require firms testing autonomous vehicles to report accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days, but it hasn’t received a committee vote.

Consumer Watchdog requested Uber publish monthly reports on its pilot project, similar to those released by Google Inc.’s autonomous vehicle project, on top of technical data related to crashes. The group also requested that Uber publish “disengagement reports” detailing when and why autonomous technology had to cede control to the driver of the test vehicle.

The Pennsylvania State Senate measure would require that kind of report on a biannual basis.

In August, Uber announced plans to purchase driverless truck makers Ottomotto LLC, as well as a $300 million partnership with Volvo Cars in which each company pledged $150 million to go toward building autonomous cars.