Why Uber hired a top NHTSA safety regulator

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WASHINGTON – Uber Technologies Inc. confirmed on Monday that it has hired a senior US car security officer involved in the federal government's handling of self-driving cars for its autonomous vehicle operations.

Nat Beuse, an official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who oversees vehicle safety research, is the last federal official to join the efforts of the private sector to commercialize self-driving vehicles.

"Uber's approach to self-driving vehicles is an opportunity to make a difference in the safe commercialization of this revolutionary technology, which I have spent a lot of time in recent years," said Beuse in a statement issued by Uber. "It is clear to me that the team is dedicated here to give priority to safety."

Last month, Uber asked Pennsylvania to resume self-driving autotests on public roads and said it had improved the autonomous vehicle software more than seven months after testing had been suspended after a fatal crash in Arizona. Uber is still waiting for approval, a spokeswoman said.

Uber said that it will resume testing with two employees on the front seat, an automatic brake system will be possible at all times and stricter safety officers will check.

In June, the police in Tempe, Arizona said a back-up driver was being distracted from driving a self-driving Uber and streaming a television show on her phone until roughly the time the car hit and a pedestrian crossing a street crashing of 18 March, which caused the emerging industry to "completely avoidable" shook.

The crash was the first death attributed to a self-driving car and a significant setback for the industry.

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Waymo from Alphabet Inc. left last week. the former chairman of the National Transport Safety Board, Debbie Hersman, as Chief Security Officer. Waymo said that Hersman "will monitor the design and improvement of our product safety program."

In 2017, General Motors hired NHTSA's head advisor, Paul Hemmersbaugh, to supervise automated vehicles legally and politically. Last year Zoox Inc also started the former NHTSA manager Mark Rosekind as chief safety innovation officer.

Waymo plans to launch a limited commercial self-driving rhythm service in Arizona by the end of the year, while GM has asked NHTSA for approval to launch a similar service next year in vehicles without a steering wheel or brake pedals.

In October NHTSA said it was reviewing safety rules that completely block self-driving cars from the road without human control.