Self-driving vehicle kills pedestrian in Arizona

NEW DELHI March 20, 2018: A self-driving Uber SUV killed a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle–a crash that could have far-reaching consequences for the new technology said media reports on Tuesday.

The death on Sunday night at Tempe was the event many in the auto and technology industries was fearing.

The reports said Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The testing has been going on for months as automakers and technology companies like the ride-hailing service compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.

The Volvo was in a self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk, police said. She died at a hospital, said the reports.

Uber chief executive officer (CEO) Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company was working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which can enact regulations, sent investigators, said media reports.

Tempe police Sgt Ronald Elcock said local authorities haven’t drawn any conclusions about who is at fault but urged people to use crosswalks. He told reporters at a news conference on Monday the Uber vehicle was travelling around 40 mph when it hit Helzberg immediately as she stepped on to the street, said the media reports.