Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Arizona suspends Uber's driverless vehicle tests

The NTSB is investigating the incident. Credit Reuters The NTSB is investigating the incident. Credit Reuters
Ginger Lawrence | 29 March, 2018, 01:37

After video footage of the car's crash was released by Tempe Police last week, Arizona governor Doug Ducey removed Uber's driverless auto testing privileges in the U.S. state due to concerns about the company's ability to safely test the self-driving systems, Associated Press reported.

According to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN, Ducey said he found video footage of the crash "disturbing and alarming". Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said her initial investigation, based on the Uber car's video, showed the woman abruptly stepped in front of the autonomous vehicle.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking her bicycle across an intersection late in the evening of March 18 when she was struck by the autonomous vehicle, police said. Video shows self-driving Uber car's fatal collision with pedestrian in Arizona The letter reads in part: "Uber has indicated that it will not renew its current permit to test autonomous vehicles in California".

Ducey effectively suspended the transportation company's "ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona's public roadways".

NTSB investigators in Tempe, Arizona, examine the Uber vehicle involved in Sunday's fatal accident. In addition to Tempe, Uber halted its self-driving trials in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. Ducey signed an executive order earlier this month allowing autonomous vehicles on the state's roads without a test driver behind the wheel.

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An Uber spokesperson said in a statement: "We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident".

The DMV responded on Tuesday confirming Uber's decision. She was taken to hospital but later died from her injuries. They are working with the National Transportation Safety Board and the US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine who, or what, was at fault for the accident. The acquisition of Otto subsequently led to a high-profile lawsuit in which Waymo, Google's self-driving vehicle sister company, accused Otto cofounder Anthony Levandowski of appropriating trade secrets. Cars from Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, which has logged the most self-driving miles of any company, went about 5,600 miles between interventions in California, according to its disengagement reports.

Uber's self-driving cars also previously jumped at least six red lights in San Francisco.

It's still possible that other states will suspend Uber, or other AV testing. There was a driver behind the wheel of the auto, but they weren't in control when the accident occurred.