Arizona Suspends Uber’s Ability to Test Self-Driving Cars

Mar 27, 2018

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has suspended Uber’s ability to test its self-driving cars in the state after the fatal crash in which the company’s autonomous vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

Following the March 18 crash, which killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, Uber said it would be suspending its tests for self-driving cars in all cities while investigations took place. The ride-sharing company has autonomous vehicle testing in San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto, but Phoenix was a major city for the development of its self-driving tech. Uber had about half of its 200 autonomous vehicles and hundreds of employees stationed there, Reuters reports.

In the letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Ducey says he watched video of the accident, and he found it to be “disturbing and alarming,” and that it “raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona.” The letter goes on to say that the crash was an “unquestionable failure” on Uber’s part to make public safety the top priority in testing new technology.

Uber said it would “keep a dialogue open” with the Governor’s office, and it would “address any concerns they have.”

Arizona officials had previously stated that the crash was likely not Uber’s fault. “It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven), based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said. Herzberg crossed the street about 100 feet outside of the crosswalk at 10:00pm, but the sensors that let self-driving cars see detect and process their surroundings work just as well in the dark. “It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated, managed crosswalks are available,” Moir said.

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