TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese automaker Toyota said on Thursday (March 22) it was suspending tests of its self-driving cars so staff could "emotionally process" after an autonomous Uber car killed a pedestrian in an accident.
Ride-sharing giant Uber has already suspended use of self-driving cars after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian on Sunday in the US state of Arizona.
"We cannot speculate on the cause of the incident or what it may mean to the automated driving industry going forward," Toyota said in a statement issued via the US company that conducts its autonomous vehicle research TRI.
"TRI is pausing Chauffeur mode testing to let its drivers emotionally process this tragedy. We're monitoring the situation and plan to resume testing at an appropriate time," the statement said.
"This pause is meant to give them time to settle their feelings and come to a sense of balance."
Toyota said it would continue its tests of semi-autonomous cars on closed circuits.
But all testing of autonomous cars on public roads, which was previously being conducted in Japan and the US states of California and Michigan, is on hold.
Toyota, like Uber, has safety drivers behind the wheel of its autonomous cars during testing, though the drivers are not typically expected to operate the vehicles.
The Uber accident was the first fatal self-driving car crash involving a pedestrian and has raised fresh concern about the safety of autonomous vehicles.
German automaker BMW said on Wednesday expressed sympathies over the incident but said it would not affect its self-driving car project, while Nissan has made no comment.