In a fresh new horror for Uber, a woman in Arizona died after the company’s self-driving SUV ran over her. Uber has since suspended its autonomous vehicle program across the United States and Canada.
Uber also posted a tweet expressing its condolences and said the company was fully cooperating with authorities.
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.
— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also tweeted his condolences.
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
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” Uber Spokesperson told BGR India.
As reported by Reuters, this accident, which took place in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, marked the first fatality from a self-driving vehicle. The reported SUV was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel at the time of the accident, Tempe police told the news agency.
“The vehicle was travelling northbound … when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle,” police said in a statement.
However, while Uber’s autonomous program seems flawed from this angle, San Francisco Chronicle shares another perspective to this. The publication reports that the police chief of Tempe, Sylvia Moir, found in the preliminary investigation that the ride-sharing company is likely not at fault for the accident.
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode [autonomous or human-driven] based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Moir told the paper, adding that the incident occurred roughly 100 yards from a crosswalk. “It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated managed crosswalks are available,” she said.
“The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,” Moir said. “His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.”
Currently, self driving cars are being tested by several companies and in different regions. Incidents such as this could naturally derail efforts to fast-track the introduction of the new technology.