Self-driving Uber strikes and kills pedestrian

Tempe police chief says early probe shows no fault by Uber

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Uber Volvo XC90

Uber’s Volvo XC90 Plugin Hybrid is equipped with third party software and hardware that enables the SUV to drive without human assistance. Photo courtesy Uber

At approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, an Arizona woman was struck and killed by one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles, according to a Bloomberg report. The vehicle was equipped with a front-facing video recorder, which showed the woman, who was walking her bicycle, step out of a darkly lit center median and into traffic. Reports state the victim, Elaine Herzberg, 49, suddenly stepped out into traffic well outside of any marked crosswalk or bicycle lane.

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

“The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,” Moir added, referring to the backup driver who was behind the wheel but not operating the vehicle. “His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.”

This is the first known pedestrian death caused by a self-driving car.

Early Monday morning Uber tweeted: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.” They also state they have paused all testing of their autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto, and greater Phoenix area.

While early reports characterize the victim as a cyclist later information showed that the victim was not riding her bike at the time of the accident. Elaine, also known as “Ms. Elle”, was well known and liked throughout the homeless community of Tempe.

To learn more, read the full story at www.Bloomberg.com and www.sfchronicle.com.

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About the author: Justin Wages

As a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, Justin Wages got into the cycling world in an effort to increase his endurance after losing his left lung. As a California native and growing up with a skateboard and snowboard beneath his feet it wasn’t long before the thrill of mountain biking gripped him. Justin’s day job as a Land & Recreation Manager helps him understand the balance between conservation and trail use. He also works with his fiancé, Jeni, to bring more women into the mountain bike world with certified skills clinics and education. “My goal is to get more people on trails for health and enjoyment,” he says. “I want to help them overcome their mental or physical limitations and be the best person they can be, while expanding their appreciation for our natural world.”


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