Autonomous Uber vehicle involved in fatal crash in Arizona

A self-driving Uber Volvo XC90 SUV killed a pedestrian in Tempe Arizona. The incident happened in the overnight hours between Sunday and Monday. The victim was said to have been walking outside a crosswalk while walking her bicycle when the incident happened. This incident marks the first such death involving an autonomous vehicle. The pedestrian killed was identified as Elaine Herzberg, 49, while the person sitting inside the self-driving Uber car was Rafael Vasquez, 44.

Uber is cooperating with investigators and have suspended its testing of self-driving vehicles in Arizona and other locations as the investigation proceeds. Adding insult to injury (or death in this case) to the victim’s family:

“Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi sent his condolences to the victim’s family via Twitter on Monday afternoon. Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”

Twitter? Seriously?

This incident could cloud optimism for tech companies rushing to bring self-driving technology to the streets as legislators draft new laws applying to autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars need to be more regulated, in my opinion. They are far from perfect and may encounter many more issues in the future when they are rolled out full scale. Who would be responsible if someone gets injured or killed by a self-driving car? What happens if the self-driving car glitches out or gets hacked? Many questions remain, though its best if someone is still in control at the wheel, as was the case with this incident in Arizona, but apparently the person sitting at the wheel felt confident that the A.I. driving the car can react accordingly. Apparently not!

There have been several incidents that involved self-driving cars hitting pedestrians or the autonomous car getting confused/stumped:

Self-driving Chevy Bolt gets stumped by taco truck

Self-driving Chevy Bolt has run in with a motorcyclist

Image credit: Uber

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