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Arizona Bans Uber’s Driverless Cars after Deadly Crash

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 15.59.49

The moment prior to history’s first deadly self-driving car crash

The state of Arizona has suspended Uber’s trialling of driverless vehicles, following a crash in which one of the ride-hailing service’s self-driving vehicles killed a pedestrian in the technology’s first deadly accident.

Last week, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was killed in the city of Tempe; the impact happened when emergency human driver Rafaela Vasquez was looking down.

Uber had already called off its testing operations on its own accord, while the US National Transportation Safety Board carried out an investigation on the accident; the city of Tempe’s police department has also undertaken an investigation, which will then be taken over by the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.

The official suspension was issued   from the office of the governor of Arizona. Doug Ducey on Monday. Ducey sent a letter stating that the ban would be in “the best interests of the people” of Arizona, labelling Uber’s accident an “unquestionable failure.”

Ducey called the video of the accident “disturbing and alarming.” The imbroglio is unlikely to go away anytime soon: a New York Timesinvestigation revealed that Uber’s driverless tech programme was dogged by mistakes and shortcomings, and that several employees had flagged up safety problems well before the crash.

Uber had been testing its technology in the state since late 2016. It had initially been trialling driverless vehicles in San Francisco, but decamped after the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended its programme due to Uber’s refusal to get the necessary permits.

Arizona’s regulatory framework on self-driving cars is particularly loose: that is why companies including Intel, Lyft, and  General Motors are all testing their driverless vehicles in the state. Later in 2018, Alphabet’s driverless car subsidiary Waymo is slated to launch a self-driving ride-hailing service in Phoenix.

Image via Uber/Youtube



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