SAN FRANCISCO — A woman in Tempe, Ariz., has died after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber, in what appears to be the first known death of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle on a public road.
The Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel when it struck the woman, who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, the Tempe police said in a statement.
The incident happened on Sunday around 10 p.m.
Uber said it had suspended testing of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
The woman, whom Bloomberg has identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was transferred to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries.
Video of the scene from ABC15 shows a self-driving Uber SUV with a damaged hood and right front fender. A bicycle with a bent rim lies on the sidewalk nearby.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it will send a team to investigate the incident.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” Uber said in a statement released on Twitter. “We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.”
The fatal crash will most likely raise questions about regulations for self-driving cars. Testing of self-driving cars is already underway for vehicles that have a human driver ready to take over if something goes wrong, but states are starting to allow companies to test cars without a person in the driver’s seat. This month, California said that, in April, it would start allowing companies to test autonomous vehicles without anyone behind the wheel.
An Uber self-driving car was involved in another crash a year ago in Tempe. In that collision, one of Uber’s Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicles was hit when the driver of another car failed to yield, causing the Uber vehicle to roll over onto its side. The car was in self-driving mode with a safety driver behind the wheel, but police said the autonomous vehicle had not been at fault.
For those who use ride-sharing companies like Uber, it is important to know what to do if you are ever in an accident, understand who is at fault in the event of a ride-sharing crash, and how to receive payment for any injuries or other losses you sustain.