Uber suspends self-driving car tests after deadly pedestrian accident

Science and Tech

In this file photo taken on September 13, 2016, pilot models of the Uber self-driving car are displayed at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (AFP PHOTO / Angelo Merendino)

Uber is halting its self-driving car tests in the United States and Canada, after a deadly pedestrian accident. The accident occurred in Tempe, Arizona on March 18.

According to police, the car was operating in autonomous (or self-driving) mode. However, there was a person in the driver’s seat at the time of the collision.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

The crash damaged the front of the Uber vehicle and a bicycle nearby. The victim was a 49-year-old woman, who police report was walking outside the crosswalk at the time of the crash. She was transported to an area hospital, where she died from her injuries. According to Uber, there were no passengers in the vehicle, only the operator in the driver’s seat.

It’s not clear how fast the Uber vehicle was going, or if it was breaking any laws at the time of the crash. Tempe police have yet to say if they anticipate charges being filed.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation of this incident,” Uber said in a statement.

“Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened,” said Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, on Twitter.

Uber announced it’s suspending testing of self-driving vehicles in the Tempe area as well as San Francisco and Pittsburgh in the U.S. and Toronto, Canada. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate the crash.

Autonomous vehicles in the U.S. are covered by a patchwork of state level rules and laws. Regulators will likely take this crash into consideration as they craft policy around the future of driverless cars.