Uber's Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian, Is Technology Being Deployed Too Early?
21 March 2018, 03:28 | Isaac Mcdaniel
The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk in Tempe, police said.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, tweeted, "We're thinking of the victim's family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened".
The person who controlled a self-driving Uber vehicle that killed an Arizona woman this week was a convicted felon, authorities said Tuesday.
The police officer who attended the media said the pedestrian had been outside the crosswalk and the moment she walked into the lane of traffic she was hit.
Incidentally, Arizona's Republican governor Doug Ducey had a few days earlier signed an executive order making companies operating autonomous vehicles responsible for anything happening on roads including in the event of a murder. Uber said on Monday it was suspending its own program. She highlighted a 2016 IMechE case study, which called for public consultations, new regulations and driver training before automated cars become fully legal.
The death comes a year after Uber took its self-driving cars off the roadfollowing an accident that left a Volvo SUV on its side in Arizona. A survey issued previous year by the American Automobile Association found that three-quarters of USA drivers were afraid of riding in an autonomous vehicle.
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Investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to look into the incident.
This latest incident has placed heightened scrutiny on autonomous vehicle technologies.
Rafael Vasquez, a 44-year-old test driver from Uber, was behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time.
The technology has widely been seen as almost ready for primetime despite earlier incidents, such as the death of a Tesla driver who was relying on the system's Autopilot system before he got decapitated running under a semi-truck on a Florida highway.
"Arizona has been the wild west of robot vehicle testing with virtually no regulations in place", said Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, in a statement. In 2015, the state created specific zones for self-driving vehicle development on rural and suburban streets.
Uber and Waymo on Friday urged Congress to pass sweeping legislation to speed the introduction of self-driving cars into the United States.
Either way, the fatality could hurt the technology's image and lead to a push for more regulations at the state and federal levels, Smith said.
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