A woman in Tempe, Arizona met her untimely end when an autonomous Uber car hit her as she was crossing an intersection. This incident marks the first-ever pedestrian death thanks to autonomous vehicles.
The Uber Volvo XC90 was said to be in autonomous mode but with a human safety driver onboard if the vehicle needed taking over. The intersection itself wasn’t marked with crossing signs – thereby possibly leading to miscalculation on the self-driving car’s end when watching out for pedestrians. The unfortunate incident happened over the weekend last Sunday around 10PM, and the woman was not publicly identified.
Following this unfortunate incident, Uber says they’ve suspended testing of autonomous vehicles in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” an Uber spokeswoman, Sarah Abboud, said in a statement.
This fatal crash will likely raise questions about the safety of autonomous vehicles in real-time use as well as the regulations governing these types of vehicles. While most states allow testing of driver-less cars with a human driver on standby, some states are already progressing towards completely autonomous testing. States like California and Arizona will soon allow such testing, but this incident may prove a setback to those regulations.
Prior to this incident, the first-known self-driving vehicle death was back in 2016 when a driver of a Tesla struck a truck while in autonomous mode.
About the same time last year, another similar self-driving Volvo XC90 was involved in a high-speed xrash with another vehicle, also in Tempe. The crash caused the XC90 to flip on its side with two Uber engineers riding in front, the other car's windows were also smashed. Nobody was hurt in the incident, and the self-driving Uber has the right of way, according to the police report.