Uber Settles With Family of Pedestrian Killed by Its Self-Driving Car

Details of the settlement are confidential.

byStephen Edelstein|
Self-Driving Tech photo


Police and regulators are still investigating a fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car that occurred last week in Tempe, Arizona, but Uber has already settled with the victim's family. Reuters reports that the family of Elaine Herzberg has agreed to settle with Uber, allowing the company to avoid the negative publicity of a drawn-out trial.

Cristina Perez Hesano, an attorney with Glendale, Arizona, law firm Bellah Perez, confirmed the settlement to Reuters. Neither Hesano or Uber would comment on the terms of the settlement, as they are confidential.

The question of liability has been intensely discussed since self-driving cars first appeared, but companies, regulators, and litigators have yet to come up with concrete answers. In this case, it's at least clear that Uber is somewhat liable because it was operating the car, and an Uber employee was onboard as a safety driver. But the situation could become more murky with self-driving cars owned by individuals, and companies may seek blanket immunity from liability in new regulations.

Herzberg was struck by an Uber self-driving car while pushing a bicycle across a street at night. She was taken to a nearby hospital and later died from her injuries. The case brought increased scrutiny to self-driving cars and testing policies, but the focus seems to have narrowed to Uber's technology in particular. 

Arizona's governor suspended the company's autonomous-car testing permit, and various analyses have questioned Uber's choices in designing its autonomous-driving system. But other companies are pushing ahead with their self-driving car plans. Waymo, for example, confirmed earlier this week that it will launch an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona, before the end of the year.

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