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Self-Driving Uber Vehicle Kills Pedestrian In Arizona

Self-Driving Uber Vehicle Kills Pedestrian In Arizona

It's believed to be the first pedestrian to be hit and killed by an autonomous car

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

A woman has died after a self-driving Uber vehicle ran into her in the US, in what's believed to be the first pedestrian to be killed by an autonomous car.

Tempe Police said while there was a safety driver behind the wheel, it was in full autonomous mode; and the woman was walking outside of the crosswalk when she was hit.

An Uber spokesperson has released a statement to ABC15, saying: "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."

The company has been testing the technology in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tempe and Toronto, however, in light of what's happened, they've suspended tests until further notice.

The technology has been heralded for being a safer alternative, but it took a hit to its credibility in 2016 when a Tesla driver was killed after the vehicle he was in crashed into a tractor-trailer.


An investigation, however, found that motorist Joshua Brown ignored six audio warnings and seven warnings on his dashboard for him to keep his hands on the wheel. He didn't have his hands on the wheel for 90 percent of the drive.

While it might sound counterintuitive to have a self-driving car that requires you to hold the wheel, the technology being tested then was only for semi-autonomy.

A 500-page report on the accident found that he made no effort to brake, steer or try to avoid hitting the other vehicle.

When the accident happened, Tesla owner Elon Musk wrote: "The customer who died in this crash had a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss.


"He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla's mission. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends."

Despite the car's technology essentially being vindicated, the investigation concluded well after people had made up their minds that self-driving cars could cause more damage than a human.

Interestingly, us mortals don't seem to fare well when a car like this goes from autopilot to relinquishing control, according to Stanford University. Researchers were looking at how smoothly humans could adjust to that change and we weren't great.

Lene Harbott, co-author of the research said: "Even knowing about the change, being able to make a plan and do some explicit motor planning for how to compensate, you still saw a very different steering behaviour and compromised performance."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: tesla, News, Uber, Technology, Cars