The police said the vehicle was driving at 40 mph when it struck Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was walking a bicycle at the time. The woman was trying to get across the street, and authorities don’t believe she was in the crosswalk.
She was immediately taken to a hospital, but she died from her wounds. Tempe police noted that the self-driving vehicle did not slow down before hitting the pedestrian. The car was in autonomous driving mode but it had a backup human driver.
It isn’t clear if driver Rafael Vasquez, 44, intervened to prevent the accident. Neither the driver or the victim were impaired at the time of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced an investigation into the matter. Uber refused to comment on the crash but added that it would cooperate with local authorities.
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,
a spokesperson for the taxi app firm said.
Driverless Car Kills Pedestrian in Nation’s First
It is the first time a driverless car strikes and kills a pedestrian, a scenario long dreaded by the driverless car industry. Uber is testing driverless cars in several U.S. cities including Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The company announced that it would put on hold all driverless operations during the investigation.
Phoenix and nearby municipalities have attracted many driverless car companies including Google’s Waymo and Uber.
Uber first started to test the vehicles in Arizona in February last year. In March 2017, one of its driverless cars crashed, but an investigation revealed that the car was not at fault.
It is the first time the autonomous technology leads to a fatality. Until now, the technology’s proponents argued that driverless cars could significantly reduce automobile deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 37,000 Americans were killed in a car crash in 2016.
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