One of the concerns regarding the safety of a self-driving car is spotlighted today, as an Uber car has struck and killed a pedestrian. Ever since the concept of the autonomous vehicle hit the headlines, worries over someone getting hurt or possibly killed by a car without a driver have emerged. Reports indicate these concerns were warranted as a woman was killed Monday by an Uber self-driving car in Arizona.
According to the New York Times, it is no longer just a concern that a car without a driver may cause harm, as this has now happened. A female pedestrian was crossing the street “outside of the crosswalk,” when she was struck and killed by an Uber car that was operating in the autonomous mode. Despite the vehicle operating in this mode, there was a “safety driver” behind the wheel to make sure all went well.
The deceased woman has been identified as Elaine Herzberg, 49, and her death appears to be the first caused by a self-driving vehicle. The Verge reports she was killed in Tempe, Arizona, early on Monday morning.
This fatal accident has prompted Uber to take all its driverless cars off public roads in Arizona. They have also taken their autonomous vehicles off the roads in Toronto, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh.
The authorities in Tempe, Arizona, have confirmed this death was caused by a driverless Uber car. The vehicle was traveling northbound when the crash occurred near Mill Avenue and Curry Road in Tempe, reports the Verge.
Herzberg was transported to a hospital, where she died just a short time after she arrived. The preliminary reports suggested the victim may have been a cyclist, but this is not the case. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to Tempe, as they are opening an investigation into this accident.
Uber is fully cooperating with the investigation, and the company has issued a statement regarding this fatal accident.
The Verge spoke with a representative from Uber, who said, “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”
Dara Khosrowshahi, who is the CEO of Uber, tweeted his condolences today.
Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened. https://t.co/cwTCVJjEuz
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018
According to the New York Times, California was set to let companies test drive their self-driving cars without a safety driver in the car starting in April. It is not known if this incident will put a delay on this next level of testing.
Arizona has been allowing driverless cars to use their roads without a safety driver in the car since last year. According to the New York Times, “Waymo, the self-driving car unit from Google’s parent company Alphabet,” has used cars without drivers to pick up and drop off passengers in Arizona.
The Times suggests that Arizona is becoming a hot spot for this technology.
The outlet states, “The state has largely taken a hands-off approach, promising that it would help keep the driverless car industry free from regulation.”
This has opened the floodgates for the technology companies to come to Arizona, where it is much easier to test drive their self-driving cars.