Uber self-driving car in fatal collision in Arizona

An Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, has been involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian. The company said it was fully cooperating with local police and authorities as they investigate the incident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is sending a team to the city to look into the crash. The NTSB said the investigation would address the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users.

“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,” wrote Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a Tweet referencing the crash.

The fatality – thought to be the first involving a self-driving car and a pedestrian – brought an immediate call from consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog for a pause in autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. The group also called for all data from the fatal crash to be made public.

“There should be a national moratorium on all robot car testing on public roads until the complete details of this tragedy are made public and are analyzed by outside experts so we understand what went so terribly wrong,” said John Simpson, the group’s Privacy and Technology Project Director.

The Teamsters Union, which represents more than 600,000 professional drivers, said in a statement: “Driverless technology is still in a testing phase and there are enormous risks inherent to testing unproven technologies on public roads. It is critical that pedestrians and drivers are safeguarded.” 

As different states have worked to attract self-driving vehicle developers to their cities, Arizona has sought to eliminate unnecessary regulations and hurdles to the development of self-driving technology. Governor Doug Ducey recently updated an executive order governing the testing of self-driving vehicles in the state.