Automation

Uber Halts Self-Driving Fleet After Fatal Arizona Crash

The vehicle was reportedly operating in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel when it struck a pedestrian crossing outside of the crosswalk.

by Aaron Aupperlee, The Tribune-Review / March 19, 2018
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(TNS) — Uber has grounded its fleets of self-driving cars, including SUVs on the road in Pittsburgh, after a woman was hit and killed by one of the company's cars Sunday in Tempe, Arizona.

The woman was walking across a street outside of a crosswalk when the Uber struck her, Tempe police told the Tribune-Review.

The woman was taken to a hospital where she died from her injuries.

"Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted. "We're thinking of the victim's family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened."

Uber suspended its self-driving operations in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto following the crash.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident," Uber said in a statement.

The crash happened about 10 p.m. Sunday near Curry Road and Mill Avenue, according to police. The Uber SUV was driving north on Curry Road. The woman was crossing the road from the west, police said.

The Uber SUV was in autonomous mode at the the time of the crash, and a vehicle operator was behind the wheel.

The woman's name has not been released.

Video from ABC15, a Tempe news station , shows a bicycle on the sidewalk near the Uber. The video shows minor damage to the Uber's front end.

This is the first reported pedestrian killed by a self-driving car. It is the first fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber. A man was killed in May 2016 when his Tesla, operating in its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, crashed into a semitrailer.

This is Uber's second major crash in Tempe involving a self-driving SUV. A car crashed into an autonomous Uber about a year ago, rolling the SUV on its side. Uber suspended its testing in Tempe, San Francisco and Pittsburgh following that crash.

A self-driving Uber in Pittsburgh was involved in a fender bender in September. The company determined neither the vehicle operator nor the self-driving software were at fault in the crash.

Pittsburgh's only other reported crash involving a self-driving vehicle happened in January when a box truck T-boned an Argo AI self-driving car.

Uber first started testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh in 2016. By September of that year, it launched a pilot program in Pittsburgh to offer rides in self-driving Volvo SUVs to Uber customers. Uber expanded its testing of self-driving cars to Tempe and San Francisco. The company started testing cars in Toronto when it opened an artificial intelligence lab there.

Uber announced in September that its self-driving cars logged more than 1 million miles in its first year. The fleet drove 1 million more miles 100 days later.

©2018 The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.