A woman in Tempe, Arizona, has been killed after being struck by a self-driving Uber car at about 10 p.m. last night. The victim’s name has not as of yet been released.
The vehicle was in autonomous, or self-driving mode, but did have a person behind the wheel when it struck the woman who was crossing the street outside of the crosswalk last night. It is not clear whether the person in the car attempted to regain control of the vehicle before striking the pedestrian.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” Uber said in a statement.
The company said it had been testing self-driving cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. Uber announced that it was discontinuing that testing and pulling all of its self-driving vehicles off the road in the wake of the incident.
Arizona has been cooperative about technology companies testing self-driving technology in cars, promising to keep the nascent industry free from regulation. As a result, many corporations conduct their research in Arizona. The state already allows self-driving cars to operate without a person in the car. Waymo, the driverless division of Google parent company Alphabet, has been conducting pick-ups and drop-offs of passengers in cars completely human-free since last year.
Advances in driverless car technology have increased rapidly in recent years but researchers in the field have struggled with reacting to unforeseen incidents and behavior. Tech companies contend that driverless cars will ultimately be safer than cars operated by humans because they won’t get distracted or ever ignore traffic laws.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a small team of investigators to Arizona to probe the crash involving the Uber car, it said today.