Uber suspends road-testing after pedestrian dies
A self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle – an accident that could have far-reaching consequences for the new technology.
The crash Sunday night in Tempe was the event many in the auto and technology industries were dreading but knew was inevitable.
Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The testing has been going on for months as automakers and technology companies like the ride-hailing service compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.
The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk, police said. She died at a hospital.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with law enforcement on the investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which can enact regulations, sent investigators.
Tempe police Sgt. Ronald Elcock said local authorities haven’t drawn any conclusions about who is at fault but urged people to use crosswalks. He told reporters at a news conference Monday the Uber vehicle was traveling around 40 mph when it hit Helzberg immediately as she stepped on to the street.
Neither she nor the backup driver showed signs of impairment, he said.