It was bound to happen eventually. Last night at about 10pm, an Uber self-driving autonomous car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. According to news reports, in response to the tragic accident, Uber has immediately put a moratorium on testing of its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Toronto.
In a statement to the media, an Uber company spokesperson expressed condolences to the family of the victim:
"Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."
Although a full investigation is underway, Tempe police officials said in a statement that the woman who was hit and killed by the Uber vehicle was crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk, near the intersection of Mill Avenue and Curry Road. The victim was transported to a local hospital where she died.
The Uber vehicle was reported to be in autonomous mode when the accident occurred, with a human operator behind the wheel. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the incident.
NTSB sending team to investigate Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona. More to come.-- NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) March 19, 2018
There have been a variety of autonomous vehicle accidents over the past few years as Google, Uber, Lyft, and many other companies test the vehicles. In most cases, these accidents have been attributed to the drivers of the other vehicles involved.
This is the first time an autonomous car has been implicated in the death of a pedestrian, and it is likely other autonomous car companies will take a closer look at their own programs in the aftermath of the accident.