Tempe Police: Self-Driving Uber “Likely Not at Fault” In Pedestrian Death

Uber Self-Driving Volvo XC90

Video footage shows that a self-driving Uber is “likely” not to blame for a deadly accident that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, according to report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pedestrian Killed In Self-Driving Uber Accident

On Sunday, March 18, an autonomous Uber Volvo XC90 manned by a backup driver struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg walking her bike across the road.  Unconscious at the scene, she later died at the hospital.

In an exclusive interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Tempe police chief Silvia Moir told the newspaper it appears that the Uber would likely “not be at fault in this accident”. Moir said video from the SUV’s front-facing camera shows the woman pushing her bike, laden with plastic bags, on a dark center median, then suddenly stepping out of the shadows and into traffic, about 100 yards from a crosswalk.

“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode,” Sylvia Moir, police chief in Tempe, Arizona, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The SUV was in autonomous mode and traveling 38 mph in a 35-hour zone, with a backup driver on board, according to the report, and the vehicle made no attempt to brake. Neither the victim or backup driver, 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, reportedly showed any signs of impairment.

Uber’s Self-Driving Program Remains Suspended

Uber suspended autonomous vehicle testing in multiple cities following the accident, which is believed to be the first self-driving vehicle-related pedestrian death. Toyota also decided to suspend its self-driving testing in San Francisco and on public roads near its research center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in wake of the accident.

Despite the preliminary report,  investigators are still sorting through data and police have not made a final determination on who was at fault.  The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating.

Photo Credit: Uber

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