Self-driving Uber Car hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona


  • A self-driving car from Uber Technologies Inc. hit and killed a woman walking across a road in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday.
  • It is the first time a self-driving car has killed a pedestrian, which will probably affect the fast-growing technology aiming for driverless vehicles.
  • Uber has suspended its self-driving car testing program which has been going on for months in Phoenix, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

Tempe police said that the victim, identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was walking her bicycle outside the pedestrian crossing at about 10 pm on Sunday when she was struck by an Uber test vehicle operating in autonomous mode. The Uber car was traveling at about 65 kilometers per hour.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” the company said in a statement.

The accident will likely affect the deployment of self-driving vehicles in Arizona, where driverless cars roam, and in other parts of the country as lawmakers monitor the investigation and evaluate public reaction.

Regulations on self-driving vehicles have been passed by the U.S. House of Representative but due to safety concerns, the Senate has stalled it.

“This is going to focus a lot of attention on how companies are approaching their systems, their technologies, and their management of tragedies,” said Bryant Walker Smith, an expert at the University of South Carolina School of Law on driverless vehicles.

“Arizona has been the wild west of robot car testing with virtually no regulations in place. That’s why Uber and Waymo test there. When there’s no sheriff in town, people get killed,” John Simpson, a longtime critic of driverless vehicle regulations said in a statement.

Simpson, a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica, called for a national suspension on driverless car testing on public roads until the accident has been investigated.

Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed Uber to Arizona in late 2016. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles had just canceled Uber car registrations during that time because the company refused to apply for state permits, which are required for its driverless Volvos. Uber transferred its robot cars to Arizona.

“Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide-open roads,” Gov. Ducey said at the time. “While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses.”

Ducey’s office expressed condolences for Herzberg’s family on Monday and said: “public safety is our top priority.”

Source: LA Times

12 thoughts on “Self-driving Uber Car hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona

  1. Arizona should be ashamed. Don’t we have enough deadly wrecks on our highways as it is, and now you want to sit in your car and do who knows what while a car drives itself??? Are you too lazy to drive your car yourself?

    Shame on you! I just hope you don’t lose a member of your family while “driving” in your driverless car!

    1. 6000 pedestrians are killed by vehicles in the US every year, during which those vehicles go 6000 *billion* miles without killing any. Roughly half of the deaths occur outside of legal crosswalks, also about half the time the pedestrian’s intoxicated. Watching the video, you’ll see that a human driver wouldn’t have been able to avoid the collision either. My heart goes out for the lady who died and everyone affected by this tragedy, but the truth is if you’re going to walk out in front of a car, your best chance of survival is with a computer controlling the brakes.

  2. I can’t believe how stupid our society has become first we test a bridge with live traffic underneath and then We have a driverless car run over a woman . Stupid is as stupid does .

    1. Those aren’t comparable: the traffic was on the road where it was designated to be; the lady who was killed was not. The bridge only collapsed due to monumental systematic incompetence, but pedestrians have been hit by vehicles in the US over 200 times a day for several decades. About 20 of them don’t survive. Every day. These are all tragic, but the only reason you’re reading about this one is that the robo-car didn’t stop miraculously.

        1. Name calling… that’s mature! Its probably hard to find something meaningful to do with yourself, when you are worthless of oxygen!😶

  3. This is a very sad situation, but the issue is traffic safety laws. A pedestrian does not have the right of way over a vehicle unless they are at an intersection and are in the crosswalk and have the green light, if there is one. The same law applies with normal cars as with driverless cars. The same horrible accidents occur with cars with drivers. The issue is will these types of accidents occur less often. If these accidents occur as frequently with either type of car, the type of car can not be blamed. Did the bicycle have its headlights and rear lights on? which are required after dark (10 pm). Was the bicyclist intoxicated? Root cause analysis must be done before we blame the car.

  4. as we move forward in life things do change–if you like it or not self-driving cars are here to stay—-but yes we must make them safe for everyone—

  5. 740 pedestrian’s die each day around the world. No matter where this accident happened the results would be the same………. blame the car. This is unfair. First thing is the car was under the speed limit, would it have been if someone was driving? In most cases, no. The next is that the car was able to stop sooner than if a person was driving it. It’s a shame, but it’s an accident………. as simple as that. I feel for the woman, but SHE was the one at fault, not the car.

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