A pedestrian was killed in an accident involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, according to the Tempe Police Department. Police subsequently told multiple media outlets that the car was operating in autonomous mode at the time, meaning this may be the first fatal accident involving a fully-autonomous car.
A woman was struck while crossing the road outside of a crosswalk, according to the local CBS station. Tempe police said that "she was transported to a local area hospital where she passed away from her injuries." A human safety driver was onboard at the time. Officials said an investigation is underway and that Uber is cooperating.
"Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident," an Uber spokesperson told The Drive.
Uber has suspended its self-driving car operations in Tempe, as well as the other locations where it currently deploys autonomous car on public roads. Those locations include Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.
"We're thinking of the victim's family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet.
"Tempe Police continue to investigate the accident and I want to respect their process so as not to draw conclusions prematurely," Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said in a statement. He noted that the city "has been supportive of autonomous vehicle testing" and that "all indications we have had in the past" show that companies have obeyed traffic laws. Mitchell said he supported Uber's decision to suspend autonomous-car testing while the accident is investigated.
The fatal accident comes just under a year after another Uber self-driving car crash in Tempe. In March 2017, one of Uber's test cars was hit by another car that failed to yield, flipping the self-driving car on its side. Uber paused its autonomous-car tests after that incident but resumed after the driver of the other vehicle was found to be at fault.
There is likely more information to come on the fatal accident, but the incident is sure to make self-driving car advocates' jobs more difficult. Recent studies have indicated that Americans are hesitant to trust autonomous cars, and an accident like this may intensify those feelings.
Updated: Added statement from Uber spokesperson, tweet from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and statement from Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.