- An Uber self-driving car struck a woman in Tempe, Arizona
- The victim later died from injuries at the hospital
- The fatal incident is the first ever involving autonomous vehicle and a human
A female pedestrian was killed after being struck by an autonomous Uber car in Arizona on Sunday night in what has been considered as the first-ever accident involving a self-driving vehicle and a human.
Police said the Volvo XC90 SUV was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel and travelling at 65 kph (40 mph) when it hit 49-year-old victim Elaine Herzberg who was walking her bicycle outside of the crosswalk around 10 pm in Tempe.
The Uber vehicle had no passenger during the crash and driver is said to have not suffered any serious impairment.
Herzberg was taken to the hospital but died from injuries hours later.
Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir has been quoted as saying that based on the video taken from the Uber car, “it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode” as the pedestrian was coming from the shadows right into the roadway.
“I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident,” Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle.
While the incident is still under investigation, experts believe this could deal a potential blow to the self-driving technology that was hoping to transform the transportation system in the near future.
Uber said it will cooperate with the police in the investigation.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” said Uber spokeswoman Sarah Abboudin in a statement.
The US National Transportation Safety Board, meanwhile, said it has sent a team of 4 investigators to examine “the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.”