An Uber self-driving car struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona. It’s the first known pedestrian death linked to the technology. As a result, Uber has suspended self-driving tests pending an investigation.
The car was in self-driving mode with a human safety driver behind the wheel when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. The Tempe police says the woman was walking across the street but she wasn’t on the sidewalk.
The tragedy is a reminder that self-driving technology is still experimental. Likewise, governments are still trying to figure out the rules surrounding it.
Uber and various carmakers and tech companies have started to expand the testing of their self-driving cars around the United States. Proponents say the vehicles will be safer than regular ones because easily distracted people aren’t behind the wheel.
Interestingly, while the technology is about a decade old, it’s only just starting to experience the unpredictable situations that motorists deal with.
Since 2015, Arizona’s lenient rules have opened its roads to vehicles from Uber, Waymo, and other companies looking to take advantage of its sunny days and dry weather. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently gave an executive order saying that self-driving cars did not need human drivers on public roads.
Uber has been running its self-driving operations in the state since 2016. Since last year, customers in Tempe have been able to hail rides from self-driving cars.
The incident comes two years after the first known death related to a self-driving car. In 2016, a Tesla driver was killed in an accident while using the car’s self-driving feature.