Uber 'Likely Not at Fault' in Fatal Crash that Killed a Pedestrian
Preliminary investigation of the killing Sunday night of a pedestrian by an Uber self-driving
in Arizona indicates the ride-hailing giant is probably not at fault, according to a new report.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, was hit and killed by the autonomous Volvo SUV in Tempe, while pushing a bicycle across a road in mid-block, outside of any crosswalks, Tempe police said. The car was in self-driving mode, with a human backup driver behind the wheel, police said.
The Volvo had at least two video cameras, and the city's police chief said she watched video of the collision, and that it would've been "difficult" for either a human or machine driver to avoid striking Herzberg, police chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"She came from the shadows right into the roadway," Moir said. "It appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident."
Arizona's government said Tuesday in response to the crash that the state's laws regarding autonomous vehicles were sufficient, and no immediate changes were planned, Reuters reported.
"We believe we have enough in our laws right now to regulate automobiles," Arizona transportation department spokesman Kevin Biesty told Reuters. "There will be issues that the legislature will have to address in the future as these become more widespread."
However, the fatal crash -- bound to happen at some point as companies put increasing numbers of driverless cars on public roads -- has led not only Uber to suspend its testing of robot cars on U.S. public roads, but Toyota, too.
The Japanese auto maker said the temporary move was for its test drivers.
"This 'timeout' is meant to give them time to come to a sense of balance about the inherent risks of their jobs," the firm told Reuters.
Uber's paused self-driving car testing programs are in Pittsburgh, the Tempe metropolitan area, San Francisco, and Toronto. In San Francisco and Toronto the test vehicles do not pick up passengers.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday it would send four investigators to probe the accident, and on Tuesday tweeted a photo showing investigators at work.
Consumer Watchdog, a vociferous foe of rapid deployment of autonomous vehicles on U.S. public roads, called Tuesday for a nation-wide moratorium on testing robot cars on public roads "until the complete details of this tragedy are made public and are analyzed by outside experts so we understand what went so terribly wrong."
© 2018 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Uber; iStock/Artist's concept.
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