Published: Wed, March 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Uber's driverless auto fatally knocks pedestrian

Uber's driverless auto fatally knocks pedestrian

Tempe police Chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that Elaine Herzberg abruptly walked into traffic just before the Uber SUV hit her Sunday.

Herzberg's death is the first involving an autonomous test vehicle but not the first in a auto with some self-driving features. Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced a halt of the self-driving vehicle pilot in the wake of the incident, as the company nd authorities launched independent investigations.

Temple police officers said that the crash, which hit a woman who later died of injuries at a hospital, occurred when the Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel. Uber is testing driverless cars in several US cities including Pittsburgh and San Francisco. "Our hearts go out to the victim's family", the company said in a statement.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix said it was awaiting the results of an investigation by Tempe police before reviewing whether any charges should be filed. The company has more than 100 autonomous cars testing on the roads of the greater Phoenix area, the company's prime testing ground due to the state's loose regulations and hospitable weather. "We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident". Although self-driving cars are already on the roads in many parts of the US, China, Japan, Germany and in many other countries, governments may subject future self-driving proposals to closer scrutiny. Still, many researchers believe that more self-driving cars will ultimately be safer than their human counterparts - and they may be right.

There are now over 600 cars with some level of autonomous technology being tested on Arizona's roads, including fleets run by GM Cruise and Google-owned Waymo.

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Uber's one of several companies conducting testing of self-driving technology in Arizona.

Investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to look into the incident. The entire details of the incident are not out yet, but it is revealed that the vehicle also had a human driver behind the wheel as a backup.

Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. The ride-sharing company has been testing self-driving vehicles for months as it competes with other technology companies and automakers like Ford and General Motors. Back in September 2017, a fatal crash was reported involving a Tesla in autopilot mode and a truck.

"What this incident indicates is that the state of autonomous driving (and especially Uber) is very far from where it needs to be to become market-ready", Richard Windsor, technology analyst for London-based Edison Investment Research, said in a blog post on Tuesday.

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