Photo: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press

Gov. Ducey Suspends Use of Autonomous Cars in Arizona

The Governor of the Grand Canyon State pulled the plug on autonomous Uber after the nation’s first fatality of a pedestrian by an autonomous vehicle. While not the first death associated with AI vehicles, it is the first pedestrian struck and killed.

On March 18, 2018, around 10 p.m., a woman pushing a bike across a road with a 40 mph speed limit. The pedestrian was 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. Herzberg stepped out of the shadows and was not in a crosswalk. A driver behind the wheel of the Uber was looking down at what appears to be her phone, when suddenly Herzberg appears in the video, but it too late for the car or the driver to stop. Even the Tempe Police Chief where the accident occurred, said there was nothing anyone could have done in this accident. Governor Ducey is catching a lot of heat of this incident.

In an Arizona Republic newspaper column, reporter Laurie Roberts points out several missteps that Ducey has made regarding high tech companies in Arizona.

Ducey bragged about lack of regulation. The same governor who in December 2016 crowed over Uber’s decision to bring hundreds of its driverless cars to Arizona for testing “due to California’s burdensome regulations.”

“Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide-open streets,” Ducey said at the time. “While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses.”

The Ducey administration actually bragged about its lack of oversight of driverless vehicles.

“Part of what makes Arizona an ideal place for Uber and other companies to test autonomous vehicle technology is that there are no special permits or licensing required,” the Arizona Department of Transportation said in a December 2016 press release.

This accident happened shortly after Ducey issued an EO, raving about the future of Uber in Arizona. And the regulations regarding the testing of these vehicles on the street of Phoenix and it’s suburbs have been lax at best, but non-existent is probably more accurate.

Ducey on Monday rescinded Uber’s ability to test its self- driving vehicles in Arizona, citing the video of last week’s fatal crash into a Tempe pedestrian.

“As governor, my top priority is public safety,” Ducey wrote, in a letter to the San Francisco-based company.