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An Uber self-driving SUV killed a woman crossing the street in Arizona, causing the pseudo-taxi companies to suspend its ambitious autonomous vehicle program, a new Reuters report says.
The incident marks the first fatality from a self-driving vehicle ever. This category of vehicles is being tested all over the world as analysts and consumers expect auto-piloted cars and taxis to become the transportation of the future.
An operator was behind the wheel when the crash happened, though the car was in autonomous driving mode, police in Tempe said.
“The vehicle was traveling northbound ... when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle,” law enforcement said in an official statement.
Uber said in a release that it would suspend all North American tests of self-driving vehicles after the crash. The company tweeted its condolences and emphasized its full cooperation with relevant authorities.
The vehicle was a modified Volvo XC90, which Uber had modified to make suitable for its development needs. The self-driving technology had not been installed or created by the Swedish vehicle maker.
Uber has another autonomous driving testing program in Toronto, which is now under review by the nation’s Ministry of Transportation.
Just last Friday, Google’s self-driving car program Waymo and Uber made a joint plea to Congress to introduce nationwide access to self-driving vehicles across the United States. Capitol hill sources told Reuters that Monday’s incident could hinder the passage of related legislation.
Last month, Waymo launched an auto-pilot ride-sharing service in Arizona to compete with Uber. Officials in Arizona granted Waymo a permit to operate as a transportation network company (TNC) across the state on January 24, following the company’s initial application on January 12, Bloomberg reported.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…