Uber Investigates Pedestrian Accident, Suspends Cars

An Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, March 18, according to local TV news station KNXV

“The Uber vehicle was reportedly driving early Monday when a woman walking outside of the crosswalk was struck,” KNXV reported. “The woman was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries.”

The accident happened in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, despite having a human driver behind the wheel of the auto at the time of the accident. Here is the release from the Tempe Police Department, which was released around 10 a.m. Arizona time on the following day.

“We wanted to provide an update to the Uber accident that occurred overnight on Mill Ave. just south of Curry Rd. The vehicle involved is one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles. It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel. The vehicle was traveling northbound just south of Curry Rd. when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle. She was transported to a local area hospital where she passed away from her injuries. Her next of kin has not been notified yet so her name is not being released at this time. Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation.

If the death was caused by an error by Uber’s driverless car software, it would be the first such death in the United States. An error in Tesla’s Autopilot software contributed to the death of Tesla driver Joshua Brown in 2016, but that crash happened only after the driver ignored repeated warnings to put his hands back on the steering wheel. And Tesla has emphasized that Autopilot is a driver assistance feature, not a replacement for a human driver.

Uber has suspended its driverless program nationwide for now.

read more of Timothy B. Lee’s article at arstechnica.com