Uber suffered a possible major setback as one of their self-driving cars in Arizona struck and killed Elaine Herzberg on Sunday, March 18.
We have everything you need to know about Elaine Herzberg’s death and how this is going to affect Uber going forward.
The Accident and the Victim
At approximately 10:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was crossing near Mill Avenue and Curry Road. Herzberg was crossing the street with her bike yards away from a crosswalk when a self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV struck her. She later died from her injuries.
Currently, there is not much information on Herzberg. We know that she is originally from Apache Junction, Arizona and lived in Tempe. Her Facebook profile lists her as separated, but does not appear to have been publicly updated since 2016.
The self-driving SUV was part of Uber’s fleet of self-driving vehicles, currently testing in Arizona. Uber has also been testing similar fleets in Toronto, San Fransisco, and Pittsburgh. Herzberg’s death marks the first known fatal injury due to a self-driving car.
The Volvo XC90 SUV in question was filled sensors and cameras that allow it to be self-driving. But in this case, it also had a human driver behind the wheel as an additional safety precaution.
Currently, officials and Uber are trying to figure out what exactly went wrong. The driver is cooperating with police, and it has been stated that alcohol was not a factor in the accident. Driving conditions that evening were fairly optimal for an evening drive. There was no rain or any obvious visual distractions.
Pulling the Cars Off the Road
As a response, Uber is pulling their self-driving fleets off of roads in their testing cities until the cause of the crash is discovered. In addition to Arizona officials looking into the accident, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have investigators headed towards Tempe, Arizona.
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.
— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018
While this was the first death due to a self-driving car in Arizona, it wasn’t the first accident. There was a previous accident caused by a car failing to yield to the Uber vehicle. Both Uber’s PR team and CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi expressed their sympathies via Twitter.