Self-Driving Uber Takes Fatal Turn

An Uber self-driving car killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg of Mesa as she walked her bicycle across Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona, according to the Tempe Police Department. This was the first fatal collision between an autonomous car and a pedestrian and Uber Technologies Inc.  

According to Bloomberg Technology, “neither the the self-driving system nor the human safety driver behind the wheel hit the breaks when [the pedestrian] apparently stepped off a median and onto the roadway….”

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir told the Arizona Republic that “the Uber [crash] likely was “unavoidable” based on initial police investigation and a review of video.

The vehicle was traveling 40 mph in a 35 mph zone and made no attempt to brake. Impairment was not a factor for the driver or the pedestrian when the incident occurred, according to Sgt. Ronald Elcock of the Tempe Police Department.  

The Republic reported that Stephanie Sedlak, an Uber spokeswoman, said the company is aware of Moir’s comments, but would not have a full statement on the incident until after the investigation was complete.

The company did however say it was cooperating with local officials and stated that “[their] hearts go out to the victim’s family.”

Uber has been testing the self-driving cars in Arizona, Pittsburgh and Toronto but has stopped testing in the United States and Canada in response to the accident.

How do you think Uber should have handled the accident? Do you think it is an effective tactic to wait until a full investigation is completed before releasing a statement? Is it a good strategy for the company to halt testing temporarily?

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