UPDATE: March 19, 2018, 3:23 p.m. PDT Tempe police Sgt. Ronald Elcock at a Monday afternoon news briefing identified the Uber driver behind the wheel as Rafael Vasquez, 44. He said the driver was not impaired when the car, a Volvo, hit the woman, who had stepped out of the crosswalk mid-block. The car was going about 40 mph in autonomous mode, police said.
Earlier, Tempe police spokesperson Detective Lily Duran said in an email the crash was reported around 10 p.m. Sunday night. She did not have details on when the woman, identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, died after she was taken to a hospital.
An update from the Tempe mayor Monday afternoon has also been added.
An Uber vehicle in autonomous mode hit and killed a pedestrian early Monday morning in Tempe, Arizona. In reaction, Uber has suspended all self-driving cars in its pilot programs.
Local news reports say a woman was walking outside of a crosswalk when she was hit. She was taken to a hospital where she died.
Uber’s CEO and communication team posted on Twitter about the incident, but the company did not provide further details. ABC15 reported the vehicle was in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel.
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/cwTCVJjEuz
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018
This is believed to be the first self-driving car death involving someone outside the car as several companies (including Uber, Lyft, and Alphabet’s Waymo) test the new technology. Arizona has become a hub for autonomous driving research and development with its more lax regulations about testing.
Tempe mayor Mark Mitchell urged patience with the crash investigation “as not to draw conclusions prematurely.”
A previous incident with a Tesla using its Autopilot system (technically not a self-driving system) resulted in the death of the driver in a 2016 crash.
Bloomberg reported all of Uber’s autonomous car testing operations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto, and the Phoenix area have been paused after the fatal accident.
UPDATE: March 19, 2018, 11:37 a.m. PDT An Uber spokesperson said in a statement, “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation of this incident.”
The suspended self-driving programs will remain shut down as police and other authorities continue their investigation.
The woman was apparently walking a bicycle when she was hit. The only person in the self-driving car was the operator in the front seat.
The woman killed has been identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, according to Tempe police.