Uber offers condolences after autonomous vehicle fatality

Though experts have said such an accident was inevitable, the fallout has brought Uber’s testing program to a halt and has elicited new scrutiny for the scandal-prone company.

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Can Uber avoid public condemnation this time?

The company has been testing autonomous vehicles around North America, and one of its vehicles struck a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. She was taken to a hospital, where she died of her injuries.

Uber quickly took actions after the accident but has kept a low profile.

The Washington Post reported:

The crash Sunday night in Tempe was the first death involving a full autonomous test vehicle. The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk in Tempe, police said.

Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The ride-sharing company has been testing self-driving vehicles for months as it competes with other technology companies and automakers like Ford and General Motors.

The accident is a black eye not only for Uber, but for the entire tech industry as automakers careen toward a more automated future.

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