Uber halts autonomous car testing after pedestrian is killed in Arizona
A woman has died after being struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Phoenix, Arizona.
The Volvo XC90 was operating in autonomous mode when it hit the woman as she crossed the road, police have said. A vehicle operator sat behind the wheel at the time of the incident, but the car was carrying no other passengers.
Uber said in a statement on Twitter: "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."
The autonomous Volvo XC90 struck a pedestrian as she crossed the roadABC15 screenshot
It is believed that Elaine Herzberg, 49, is the first pedestrian to be killed by an autonomous car. The incident occurred between Mill Avenue and Curry Road on the night of March 18; police said the victim was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk at the time of the collision. The woman was taken to hospital, where she died from her injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet it is "sending a team to investigate" the incident.
Uber had been testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads across Arizona, giving rides to a small number of customers. A safety operator sits in the driver's seat of all of these vehicles.
Uber said it has suspended its autonomous car operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. Company chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter: "Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. Were thinking of the victim's family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened."
The company began testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads in California in 2016. However, within hours of the trial commencing the vehicles were caught running red lights. California then revoked Uber's license to operate self-driving cars in the state, claiming it had not paid for the correct permit to test its vehicles.
Uber moved its testing to Arizona, but soon after that, in March 2017, one of its autonomous Volvos was knocked onto its side at an intersection. Although the car was driving itself at the time of the collision, it was ruled that a human-driven vehicles had failed to give way at a traffic signal, thus causing the crash.
Tempe Police Department said: "On March 18, 2018 at approximately 10pm, Tempe PD responded to a traffic collision on Curry Road and Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. The vehicle involved is one of the Uber's self-driving vehicles. It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel. The vehicle was traveling northbound just south of Curry Road when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle. The female was identified as 49 year old Elaine Herzberg. Herzberg was transported to a local area hospital where she passed away from her injuries. Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation."