First Pedestrian Killed by Self-Driving Car

Marsha Scott
March 21, 2018

Full details are still forthcoming surrounding the death on Sunday night of pedestrian Elaine Herzberg after she was struck by Uber's test vehicle, a Volvo SC 90 sport utility vehicle, operating in autonomous mode.

The tragic death of a pedestrian hit by a self-driving Uber has highlighted the many challenges of introducing autonomous cars alongside human-operated vehicles, an expert has said.

"We're fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident", the company said in a statement on Twitter.

The Tempe police department told NPR that the vehicle was in autonomous mode but had a human riding along to take control of the auto if necessary.

The police officer who attended the media said the pedestrian had been outside the crosswalk and the moment she walked into the lane of traffic she was hit.

The ride services company said it was suspending North American tests of its self-driving vehicles, which are now going on in Arizona, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

For the victim's friends and family, there are no larger lessons, writes David Leonhardt, Op-Ed Columnist in the New York Times, only tragedy. Once the investigation concludes, the case will be referred to the Maricopa County attorney, who will determine whether to bring charges.

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This is due to her stepping from the shadows near the median and into the path of the vehicle. Though there have been accidents of self-driving cars in the past, such as Tesla Model S in Florida, regulators did not push a stop button on testing or implement stricter regulations.

Anthony Foxx, who served as US Secretary of Transportation under former President Barack Obama, called the accident a "wake up call to the entire [autonomous vehicle] industry and government to put a high priority on safety".

And what happened is having really big consequences for Uber and its self driving cars in Toronto.

Also, the police chief warned that "this is really new ground we're venturing into" if the AI responsible for driving the vehicle is ultimately found to be responsible for the accident.

Daimler AG, the manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz, has also reached an agreement with Uber to include the German company's self-driving vehicles on its ride-hailing network in the "coming years".

Arizona is an incubator of self-driving vehicle tests. Previous year saw Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system cleared of defects following a seven-month investigation into a fatal crash in 2016. But this accident may cause regulators to clamp down on what has seemed like a headlong rush to ideal the technology by risking, to some extent, the safety of the public.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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