Uber Halts All Self-Driving Car Testing After Fatal Accident

March 19, 2018, 5:40 PM UTC
Uber has halted its autonomous vehicle operations in response to a fatal accident Sunday evening in a Phoenix suburb that has become a hub for testing self-driving vehicle technology.
Uber has paused operations in Tempe, Arizona, where the accident occurred, as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. Tempe is home to the state’s largest university.
The accident occurred Sunday evening at about 10 p.m. when an Uber self-driving vehicle struck a pedestrian on Mill Avenue, just south of Curry Road, according to the Tempe Police Department. The vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel, police told Fortune.
The female pedestrian, who has been identified by police as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was walking outside of a crosswalk when she was struck by the Uber self-driving vehicle. She was transported to a local area hospital where she passed away from her injuries. The intersection is near Marquee Theater, a popular music venue and about 1.5 mile north of the Arizona State University campus.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” an Uber spokesperson said Monday.
Uber started testing in Arizona in December 2016 after it was forced to shut down its self-driving car program in San Francisco for failing to obtain the proper permit. The company has since compiled with California Motor Vehicle Division regulations and was also testing in San Francisco until its decision to pause operations Monday.
The fatal accident occurred almost exactly a year after Uber’s accident involving a self-driving vehicle in Tempe. In that accident, a human driven vehicle made a left turn and hit the self-driving vehicle, flipping it onto its side. Uber to shut down its autonomous vehicle ride-hailing program temporarily after the collision and resumed operations two days later.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is a known proponent of autonomous vehicle technology and allows testing in the state per an executive order. The action has helped turn Phoenix and its multitude of suburbs into a destination for autonomous vehicle testing. Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that is now a business under parent company Alphabet, also tests in Phoenix. Chipmaker Intel and Cruise Automation, the startup acquired by GM, test in the area as well.
Ducey updated his 2015 executive order in March to allow fully autonomous cars to operate on public roads without a human behind the wheel. Vehicles must follow all existing traffic laws and rules for cars and human drivers.