At around 10pm PT on Sunday, March 18, an Uber self-driving car in autonomous mode struck a pedestrian walking outside of a crosswalk. A human operator was behind the wheel but not in control during the incident.
The woman was taken to a local hospital, where she passed away from her injuries.
In response, Uber has suspended all self-driving tests in Tempe, as well as in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto, the New York Times reports.
Uber also released a brief statement concerning the incident, stating that, “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.”
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.March 19, 2018
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also expressed sadness following today's events.
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/cwTCVJjEuzMarch 19, 2018
While Tempe police investigate, the US National Transportation Safety Board will also send an investigative team to Arizona, Bloomberg reports.
The NTSB previously investigated the fatal 2016 Tesla Autopilot crash in Florida to determine if the automaker was at fault. The agency eventually determined that the Tesla driver's "inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation" was partially responsible for the crash, and recommended that all self-driving cars have a method to alert the human operator when their focus on the road is "lacking".
While we don't know the full details of the Uber fatality, today's tragic news marks an unfortunate first for the industry. No other deaths involving a self-driving car with the AI in control have ever been reported. This is also the first known fatality of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving vehicle.
We will update this post when we receive a more detailed account of the accident.