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.