An Uber autonomous vehicle was involved in an accident that claimed the life of a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, USA in the first autonomous vehicle accident that has resulted in a fatality. The Volvo XC90 Uber self-driving car was in fully autonomous mode when the accident happened. A 49 year old woman who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk was struck by the car and succumbed to her injuries in the hospital. As a result Uber has halted all autonomous vehicle testing. This is the first fatal accident involving an Uber self-driving vehicle since Uber first put its self-driving cars on the road in 2016.
The accident has huge implications for the automotive industry especially when all major manufacturers are pushing towards a self-driving future. As is required for Uber’s autonomous test vehicles operating on public roads, the AV had a safety driver at the wheel. Safety drivers are in place in order to take preventive action in case the self-driving system appears to be at risk of endangering others on the road. No other passengers were in the vehicle at the time of this accident.
Uber had the following to say about the accident: “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 took to Twitter to express sympathy for the victim’s family,”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.”
The legal ramifications aside, the incident and the outcome of it could possibly shape how Autonomous vehicles are looked at in the very near future and that will certainly impact how countries adopt legislation around self-driving cars. Watch this space for further developments in the matter.