Self-driving Uber car involved in fatal accident in Arizona


TEMPE, Ariz. (NBC News) — A self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in a late-night accident in Tempe, Ariz.

The accident is believed to be the first pedestrian fatality involving the burgeoning technology of autonomous vehicles.

The automobile was in autonomous mode when it struck a woman who was crossing the street late Sunday night, Tempe police said.

The pedestrian, identified by police as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was rushed to a hospital, where she died of her injuries.

Police said an operator was in the driver’s seat at the time of the collision, but the vehicle was in autonomous mode. Police also said the pedestrian was walking outside of the crosswalk when she was struck.

Hours after the crash, Uber announced the suspension of all tests of its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, Phoenix, San Francisco and Toronto.

“Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted. “We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

A Twitter account for Uber’s communications department said the ride sharing company is cooperating with Tempe Police.

Self-driving cars have been hailed by technology companies as the wave of the future. Autonomous cars are already being tested in more than 30 cities around the world, with companies plowing more than $80 billion into research and development.

Self-driving cars work by using complex radar systems to observe the road, objects and other cars. That data is then fed into a computer that decides what the car should do next. Proponents of the technology have claimed that self-driving cars will make transportation safer.

Self-driving cars have been involved in accidents before, including in Tempe. Uber suspended its testing in March 2017 after one of its autonomous cars was involved in an accident.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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