News World Uber halts self-driving car program after pedestrian killed

Uber halts self-driving car program after pedestrian killed

A woman is dead after being hit by a self-driving Uber car in the US state of Arizona. Photo: Twitter/KNXV
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Riding-sharing company Uber has pulled all of its self-driving cars after a woman was reportedly killed by one if its autonomous vehicles in the United States.

Police in Tempe, Arizona are investigating a deadly crash involving an Uber car after a woman was struck crossing a road early Monday morning local time.

The woman was taken to hospital where she died from her injuries. Police identified her 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.

Tempe police said the car was in autonomous mode with a vehicle operator behind the wheel at the time of the accident.

“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.

Local television footage of the scene showed a crumpled bike and a Volvo XC90 four-wheel drive with a smashed-in front.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are sending investigative teams to probe the crash.

In response, Uber said it had suspended its autonomous vehicle program across the United States and Canada.

The accident marked the first fatality from a self-driving vehicle, which are still being tested around the globe, and could derail efforts to fast-track the introduction of the new technology.

In a tweet, Uber expressed its condolences and said the company was “fully co-operating” with authorities and expressed condolences to the family of the victim.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” the statement read.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: “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.”

Uber began testing autonomous vehicles in California in 2016, where it found some of its self-driving cars were running red lights, sparking a dispute between state regulators and Uber over the technology.

The self-driving cars are supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles to prevent crashes.

The San Francisco-based corporation later expanded it’s testing into the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has previously  said the technology and automobile companies need to allay public fears of self-driving vehicles, citing a poll showing that 78 per cent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles.

In 2017, 33 US states introduced legislation related to autonomous vehicles, with many requiring manufacturers to report any incidents to the motor vehicle department during the autonomous vehicle testing phase.

In California alone, 59 reports have been filed.

-with wires

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