Lethal Self-Driving Uber Accident

A woman was struck and killed on Sunday night by an autonomous car operated by Uber in Tempe, Ariz. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology.



Elaine Herzberg was struck while walking her bike across the street somewhere in this area. The self-driving Uber was traveling north at about 40 m.p.h. The car, a Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle outfitted with Uber’s sensor system, was in autonomous mode when it struck Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman, around 10 p.m. on Sunday. There was a human safety driver at the wheel, but the car was carrying no passengers. The vehicle was doing about 40 miles per hour on a street with a 45 m.p.h. speed limit when it struck Ms. Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across the street, according to the Tempe police.



Ms. Herzberg’s damaged bicycle lay on the sidewalk near the self-driving Uber, which was damaged on its front right side. It did not appear as though the car had slowed down before impact and that the Uber safety driver had shown no signs of impairment. The weather was clear and dry.



The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage, as Silicon Valley giants, major automakers and other companies race to develop vehicles that can drive on their own. Governments, for their part, are still trying to figure out how to regulate the technology, and a patchwork of rules are currently in place around the country.



Uber’s self-driving program first started in Pittsburgh in Sept. 2016 and extended to Tempe in Feb. 2017. The Arizona city was considered an ideal place to test autonomous vehicles because of its favorable weather and wide roads. After Sunday’s crash, Uber quickly suspended the program in Arizona, as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.



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