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Arizona Governor Suspends Uber From Further Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Photo: Uber

Earlier this month, a woman was killed in Arizona after being struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was crossing a street in Tempe late on a Sunday evening when she was hit. The car was operating without a driver, but it had a safety person — someone who could, in theory, have grabbed the wheel and switched the car over to manual — in the driver’s seat. Following the crash, Uber, as it has done in other cities following collisions with its autonomous vehicles, announced it was temporarily suspending AV testing in Tempe, as well as at its other facilities, in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. This week, Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey announced that the Arizona Department of Transportation is also suspending Uber from further tests, calling the fatal crash an “unquestionable failure.”

The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association are both currently investigating the crash. Arizona police have since released dash-cam footage from the crash — you can watch it here, though be warned it is disturbing — which shows safety rider Rafaela Vasquez appearing to look down just before the collision. A report from the New York Times on Friday showed that Uber had been hustling to keep up with its competitors in the autonomous space and pushing its cars to do things they weren’t ready to do. The Times reports Waymo cars were able to go 5,600 miles without needing a safety rider to intervene, but Uber’s numbers were more like an intervention every 13 miles.

Arizona Governor Suspends Uber From Vehicle Testing