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Nation & World

Uber Suspends Self-Driving Tests After Pedestrian Is Killed In Arizona

A self-driving Uber moves through an intersection in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 1, 2017. Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests in four cities after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Ariz.
A self-driving Uber moves through an intersection in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 1, 2017. Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests in four cities after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Ariz.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian who was walking her bicycle in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday night. The incident could be the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle.

The car was in autonomous mode but had a human riding along to take control of the vehicle if necessary, according to the Tempe Police Department. The victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was struck while walking outside a crosswalk, police said. She was immediately transported to a local hospital, where she died.

A spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department, Lily Duran, confirmed in an email to NPR that the female pedestrian was walking her bicycle when she was struck.

Uber has suspended all autonomous vehicle operations in Pittsburgh, Tempe, San Francisco and Toronto in response to the crash.

In a statement provided to NPR, Uber said, "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi referenced the "incredibly sad news out of Arizona" in a tweet and reaffirmed that the company will cooperate with local law enforcement.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to investigate the incident.

The incident is not the first fatal crash involving autonomous technology. In May 2016 a Tesla Model S struck a tractor-trailer on a Florida highway, killing the Tesla's driver. Government investigators highlighted an "overreliance on vehicle automation" as a contributor to the crash.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.