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Self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian as human safety driver watched

Uber is halting tests of its self-driving vehicles in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto

by Alex Lubben
Mar 19 2018, 5:35pm

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Uber has paused its self-driving car tests after a woman was struck and killed by one of its vehicles Sunday night, in what appears to be the first known pedestrian death caused by an autonomous car.

One of Uber’s self-driving cars was in autonomous mode but also manned by a human driver when it hit a pedestrian, Tempe Police said in a statement to VICE News. The woman was identified as 49-year-old Elaine Hertzberg.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement provided to VICE News. A spokesperson also told the Wall Street Journal that the company is “temporarily pulling its self-driving cars off the roads in Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.” The National Transportation Safety Board says it is launching an investigation into the crash.

The woman’s death is likely to raise questions about regulations surrounding the burgeoning self-driving car industry. Some 66 cities are already testing self-driving tech on their streets, according to Bloomberg and the Aspen Institute’s Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles. And back in September, Congress passed a bill for regulations that would pave the way for self-driving cars across the country. It sailed through with bipartisan approval.

It’s not the first time Uber has taken its fleet of self-driving cars off the road in Tempe. They did so in May of 2017, after a self-driving Volvo SUV flipped over.

READ: Uber suspends driverless car tests after autonomous SUV flips over

Arizona is one of the states that’s tried to attract players in the self-driving industry by leaving the industry largely unregulated. When Uber was found to be illegally testing self-driving vehicles on the streets of San Francisco in December of 2016, Arizona Gov. Doug Douchey welcomed the nascent industry to his state.

Cover image: Photo taken on March 7, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows self-driving vehicles used for test drives conducted by Uber Technologies Inc. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)