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Uber Self-Driving Car Involved in World's First Fatal Pedestrian Crash

20 March 2018

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family".

There was a driver in the vehicle while in auto mode, but Moir also said it appears the driver could not have done much to avoid the pedestrian.

John Simpson, privacy and technology project director at Consumer Watchdog, tells USA Today there should be a moratorium on all self-driving cars until investigations are completed.

Few of the dozens of tech companies, carmakers and start-ups working on autonomous systems have commented publicly since the incident but many privately worry that the first pedestrian death caused by a self-driving vehicle will undermine - at least in the court of public opinion - their efforts to build what they see as a safer alternative.

Mandatory ethical rules for autonomous vehicles should be adopted by Federal and state government before any further autonomous vehicle technology is adopted, Australia's Transport Workers' Union (TWU) says.

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"It's very clear it would have been hard to avoid this collision in any mode based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway", local chief of police Sylvia Moir was quoted as saying by the source.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which can enact regulations, sent investigators. California's Department of Motor Vehicles, which oversees autonomous testing in Uber's home state, is also seeking information from the company about what happened.

According to Reuters, the accident is believed to be the first fatality involving a fully autonomous vehicle and comes as the industry was pushing lawmakers for regulatory clearance, with hopes of offering self-driving ride services as soon as next year. Late last year, Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, which has tested in the Phoenix area for years, began removing the safety drivers to transport a small number of residents, though Waymo staff members sit in the back seat. But, to attract more companies, Arizona took a lenient approach by allowing self-driving cars to ply on public roads.

The company later said it has suspended self-driving operations in Phoenix and other cities. "Despite the fact that humans are also prone to error, we have as a society many decades of understanding of those errors".

The crash in Arizona isn't the first involving an Uber autonomous test vehicle.

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"This tragic incident makes clear that autonomous vehicle technology has a long way to go before it is truly safe for the passengers, pedestrians, and drivers who share America's roads", said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of CT.

"We're within the phase of autonomous vehicles where we're still learning how good they are".

"While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses", the Republican governor said.

The incident occurred as companies have been pushing for regulatory clearance to offer self-driving auto ride services as soon as next year. Instead, it'll likely reinforce pre-existing beliefs about the technology.

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Uber Self-Driving Car Involved in World's First Fatal Pedestrian Crash