Uber self-driving car hits and kills pedestrian, firm suspends tests

Uber has suspended its self-driving car tests after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

The incident, which is believed to be the first fatal crash involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian in the US, took place in the early hours of Monday morning.

ABC15 Arizona reports the woman, named as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was walking outside of the crosswalk when the accident happened. She died later in hospital.

It is not clear whether the Volvo SUV, which was operating in autonomous mode but had a driver behind the wheel, was at fault during the incident. However, the modified cars have sensors designed to detect pedestrians and cyclists and are supposed to react accordingly.

Police in Tempe, where Uber has been testing its fleet since February last year, say there is an “active investigation” ongoing with which Uber is cooperating.

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

‘Incredibly sad’

The Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also posted a tweet on Monday saying: “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.”

As a result, Uber has suspended the self-driving car operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The news comes almost two years after a Tesla Model S driver was killed, while the car was operating in Autopilot mode.

Joshua Brown was killed when the semi-autonomous tech failed to pick up a white trailer in bright conditions. The accident pushed Tesla to make changes to Autopilot to ensure drivers keep their hands on the wheel.

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