Arizona officials saw opportunity when Uber and other companies began testing driverless cars a few years ago. Promising to keep oversight light, they invited the companies to test their robotic vehicles on the state’s roads.
Then on Sunday night, an autonomous car operated by Uber, with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel, struck and killed a woman on a street in Tempe, Ariz. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology. The company quickly suspended testing in Tempe as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage, and governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it, an information security training analysts said.
Uber told in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”
Tempe police say an Uber car was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel (as required by law) when it struck a pedestrian who walked into the street with her bike.
Tempe police department statement on the Uber death: “We wanted to provide an update to the Uber accident that occurred overnight on Mill Ave. just south of Curry Rd. The vehicle involved is one of 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 Rd. when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle. She was transported to a local area hospital where she passed away from her injuries. Her next of kin has not been notified yet so her name is not being released at this time. Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation.”
Uber is suspending tests in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto, an information security training researcher at the company confirmed.
NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) on Monday said it will send a team to Tempe to investigate the Uber crash: The Uber vehicle was part of the company’s self-driving fleet of vehicles. The investigation will address the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
The team will consist of Investigator-in-Charge Jennifer Morrison and three investigators who will examine vehicle factors, human performance and electronic recorders.