Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Downsizing of Uber’s Self-Driving Operations

Naperville business law attorneyIn my practice as a business law attorney, I am often approached by clients who have concerns that the plans they have for their respective ventures are not working as well as they had hoped. When this happens, I help my clients review their business plans and look for places to make improvements so that they can get back on a profitable and successful track. Unfortunately, doing so often requires cuts—in terms of both projects and, sometimes, people. Such has been the case in recent weeks for Uber, as the ride-hailing company is still reeling from the fallout of a fatal accident involving one of its self-driving cars in March.

A Tragic Death

Earlier this year, Uber made headlines for the wrong reasons when one of its self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Investigations into the crash found that the pedestrian—who was wearing dark clothes—was pushing a bicycle across the street at night when the self-driving Volvo SUV hit her. The SUV had a human driver sitting in the driver’s seat, and the car’s technology expected the driver to take control if necessary to prevent an accident. There is some debate as to why, but the driver failed to intervene in time.

Since then, Uber has suspended operations of it self-driving vehicles. Pilot programs had been underway in Arizona, as well as in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, but the accident forced the company to rethink its approach.

100 People Laid Off

This week, Uber announced that it would not abandon its autonomous vehicle testing programs but that restructuring had begun. To that end, the ride-hailing giant said it was laying off all of it self-driving car operators—about 100 individuals total. The company said that the new layoffs would be given priority consideration for 55 “Mission Specialist” operator positions in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Many of the current layoffs had been on paid leave since the March accident.

In a statement, Uber said it planned to resume on-road testing of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this summer. The company’s self-driving operations in California are expected to continue, but they will likely be limited to test tracks and non-public roadways.

Making Lay-Off Decisions

When your company is faced with the possibility of layoffs, it is easy to feel that you are making a mistake. Sometimes, however, layoffs are a necessary part of maintaining your company’s long-term viability. If you have questions about making layoffs and how to do so while protecting your business, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation today.




Pittsburgh Post-Gazette