A self-driving vehicle operated by Uber struck and killed a person in Tempe, Arizona, late Sunday evening.
Police are investigating the deadly crash. While there are many unknowns at this early juncture, Uber officials say that the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode at the time and that a human safety driver was behind the wheel.
Conflicting reports said the victim was either on foot or riding a bicycle at the time of the crash. Video footage from KNXV-TV shows a mangled bicycle on the sidewalk near the Volvo XC90 Uber that was involved.
A woman whose identity has not yet been released was transported to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries, according to the Tempe Police Department. She is believed to be the first person killed by being hit by an autonomous vehicle in the United States.
An Uber spokesperson said Monday the company has temporarily stopped all testing of self-driving vehicles in the Phoenix area as well as in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi sent his condolences to the victim’s family via Twitter on Monday afternoon.
Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened. https://t.co/cwTCVJjEuz
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018
This isn’t the first time one of the Volvo XC90 test vehicles Uber is using on Tempe roads has been involved in an incident. On March 24, 2017, one of the Uber self-driving vehicles was struck, while driving straight through an intersection, by another car that had turned into its path.
While that previous crash was caused by a human motorist, and it’s too early to say who or what caused this latest, deadly crash, the first incident illustrated some of the complexities and working relationships that law-enforcement officers must have with self-driving cars as they are tested on public streets.
At the time, police detective Lily Duran told C/D that Tempe police did not meet with Uber prior to the company’s testing program in Tempe, but said, “We did meet with them shortly after they were in operation, and they provided information on their autonomous operations.
“We have talked to Uber about sharing data, and they advised that the information would be available to us should we need it.”
Uber is one of several companies that tests self-driving technology in Arizona. The company was aggressively courted by Arizona governor Doug Ducey, who touted the business-friendly and regulation-free climate for self-driving cars in Arizona at a time, back in December 2016, when Uber was battling regulators in California.