An Uber vehicle driving in the autonomous mode (self-driving) hit and killed a woman riding a bicycle, Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old. A human vehicle operator was behind the wheel. The accident happened in Tempe, Arizona.
Prompted by this tragic death, Uber has paused its self-driving operations in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Torono. This is only a pause in these operations.
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) March 19, 2018
Because a self-driving vehicle was involved, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be sending investigators to Tempe to try determine what happened:
“The NTSB is sending a team to Tempe, Arizona, to investigate the fatal collision of an Uber vehicle and a pedestrian that occurred on Sunday. The Uber vehicle was part of the company’s self-driving fleet of vehicles. The investigation will address the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists.”National Transportation Safety Board
Four NTSB investigators will “examine vehicle factors, human performance and electronic recorders,” according to the NTSB.
Uber introduced self-driving Volvos in Arizona in February of 2017. This happened after they were banned in California because of safety concerns. A month after they were introduced, there was an accident, but no one was injured. Now an innocent person is dead, and Arizona needs to decide if these vehicles should also be banned from Arizona roads.
Our lawyers are watching the NTSB investigation. Whatever went wrong here needs to be corrected. Why didn’t the Uber vehicle stop before it hit the bicyclist. Clearly, before self-driving vehicles are allowed on roads, they need to be able to detect bicycles coming from any direction and stop before hitting them. The electronic “eyes” need to be at least as good as human eyes.
Uber and any other company that uses self-driving vehicles need to be held accountable when someone is injured or killed by the vehicle. There should be no legal wrangling out of compensation to the injured people and their families. For more information about suing Uber, see “Can I Sue Uber for Injuries or Wrongful Death?”