Monday, March 19, 2018

Self-driving Uber car runs down and kills pedestrian in Arizona

As Paul Harvey used to say, "If you don't have enough to worry about..." As reported by Gabrielle Olivera and Ryan Randazzo of the Arizona Republic, March 19, 2018 (links in original):

In what is believed to be the nation's first pedestrian death involving an autonomous vehicle, a 49-year-old woman was hit and killed by a self-driving Volvo operated by Uber while crossing a street in Tempe on Sunday night.

The woman was crossing Mill Avenue outside the crosswalk near the Marque Theatre at about 10 p.m. when she was hit, police said.

Sgt. Ronald Elcock, a Tempe police spokesman, said the car was on autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel when it hit the pedestrian.

The woman, identified as Elaine Herzberg of Mesa, died at a hospital.

Uber said that its operations of self-driving cars have been "paused." The company did not dispute the police report of the vehicle operating in autonomous mode.

Uber has been carrying customers in the self-driving cars in limited parts of Tempe and Scottsdale.

"Our hearts go out to the victim’s family," Uber said. "We’re fully cooperating with local authorities as they investigate this incident."

The Phoenix area is among several sites where Uber, Waymo and other companies are testing autonomous vehicles. Nearly every accident involving autonomous cars so far has been the fault of other drivers. Sunday's fatality was the first.

In 2016, a man driving a Tesla car with partial automation was killed in Florida when he hit a truck. However, that vehicle was not intended to operate without an attentive driver, in contrast with the Uber and Waymo vehicles.

Uber and Waymo have drivers in their test cars in the Phoenix area to take control only when the cars encounter a traffic situation they can't negotiate, or if they are driving outside of areas the companies have mapped sufficiently enough to allow the cars to run on their own. Waymo has even taken operators out of the driver seat for some tests.

As of Monday afternoon, police were investigating what caused the collision and said that Uber was assisting.
Hollywood predicted this decades ago:

HT: Vox Popoli

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