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2 major players in self-driving future put brakes on road tests after deadly crash

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NVIDIA's ninth annual GPU Technology Conference opened Tuesday in San Jose, but exuberance over its processors to help make self-driving vehicles safe and reliable was tempered by developing news. (KGO-TV)

NVIDIA's ninth annual GPU Technology Conference opened Tuesday in San Jose, but exuberance over its processors to help make self-driving vehicles safe and reliable was tempered by developing news.

Uber confirmed to ABC7 News that Nvidia technology was being used by Uber's autonomous vehicle last week that struck and killed a bicyclist in Arizona.

NVIDIA today announced it will stop its own self-driving road tests. It has five such vehicles.

RELATED: Fatal self-driving Uber crash could send waves through industry

Uber already made that decision right after the accident. Today, it notified the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that it will not renew its permit to operate autonomous vehicles in the state. The permit will expire this Saturday.

DMV said Uber would need to reapply once information is available from the Arizona crash investigation. The agency might also require Uber officials to have an in-person meeting.

"I'm absolutely worried about public reaction," said Tim Wong, a spokesman for NVIDIA's automotive sector. At the same time, he affirmed the company's commitment to save lives and to provide mobility to adults who, in later years, might be incapable of driving themselves.

The many companies working on autonomous vehicle technology, such as the San Francisco start-up Ouster, hope this chain reaction to the Arizona accident doesn't create a setback for a very fast-moving and highly competitive sector.
RELATED: DMV letter says Uber suspending self-driving car tests in California

"This was bound to happen at some point. It's unfortunate it happened so quickly," said Raffi Madrosian, vice president of Ouster. "I hope we kind of move past this and still enable the industry to the research it needs to get vehicles on the road."

Investors reacted to the news of NVIDIA suspending its autonomous vehicle tests. The chip maker's stock fell almost eight percent Tuesday.

Dr. William Riggs, a management professor at the University of San Francisco, focuses on transportation and technology. He says more regulation may be needed, but to save lives, testing must continue. The longer it takes to attain truly self-driving vehicles, the more injuries or deaths could occur.

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