Uber Says It’s Coming Back To Pittsburgh Even Though Mayor Says It Can’t

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Uber officials reportedly said Wednesday that the company is taking its talents back to Pittsburgh to test self-driving cars almost immediately after it announced that it was ending similar operations in Arizona.

There’s only one problem: the mayor of the second most populous Pennsylvania city said he’s agreed to no such thing.

“I made it clear to Uber officials after the Arizona crash that a full federal investigation had to be completed,” the city’s Democratic Mayor William Peduto said in a statement, “with strong rules for keeping streets safe, before I would agree with the company to begin testing on Pittsburgh streets again.”

Uber’s intentions to resume operations in Pittsburgh were discovered by Ars Technica through internal emails.

One stipulation for Uber’s return that Peduto lays out includes the autonomous vehicles never exceeding 25 mph while operating within the city, regardless of the listed speed limit.

“The probability of pedestrians surviving a collision is much higher at speeds of under 25 mph,” the press release stated. “Even at 30 mph fatality rates increase dramatically.”

Uber chose Pittsburgh as its first location to test its driverless cars, poaching top researchers from the city’s Carnegie Mellon University, specifically its robotics department. Peduto, who uses Uber, was one of the first to ride in the self-driving cars as a sort of ceremonious welcome to the city.

That ostensible enthusiasm, however, has seemed to sour after an Uber operating on autonomous technology struck a pedestrian on an Arizona road, ultimately killing her in the process. (RELATED: Uber Picks Up Former Top Gov’t Official To Help With Safety Following Fatal Accident)

Uber reportedly laid off about 300 workers in Arizona after shutting down, but tried to quickly find a new city, or more aptly an old municipal friend, to continue its development.

“Uber did not tell me of today’s announcement, and I was forced to learn about it through social media reports,” Peduto concluded. “This is not the way to rebuild a constructive working relationship with local government, especially when facing a public safety matter.” (RELATED: Uber’s Been Using A Secretive Tool To Avoid Detection By Predatory Regulators)

Peduto’s chief-of-staff, Dan Gilman, described his boss as “shocked” when he first heard of Uber’s plans.

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