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Uber autonomous car kills pedestrian in Arizona

The autonomous car industry has been dealt a major blow this week. On Sunday, an Uber self driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The 49-year-old pedestrian was reportedly walking alongside her bicycle “outside the crosswalk” when she was hit.

It’s the first time a self driving car was involved in a pedestrian death.

The car involved was a modified Volvo XC90 fitted with Uber’s sensing technology, and occupied by a human in the driver’s seat keeping tabs on the vehicle’s systems.

Additionally, said systems are supposed to react to obstacles in the vehicle’s path and markings along the road, be it cars, lane lines, or pedestrians. It’s not clear why the vehicle did not react to the pedestrian.

“Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona,” tweeted Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO after news of the incident broke.

“We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

Uber confirmed that it will work with police to better understand the factors which contributed to the death.

Additionally, it announced a suspension of its autonomous driving tests in Arizona, as well as in San Francisco, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Toronto, Canada.

Twitter users in the meantime conducted their own surface investigations.

“Your technology isn’t safe, and an innocent person is dead. That’s what happened. Duh,” tweeted one user in response to Khosrowshahi.

“Maybe what happened was you sent a 2 ton weapon out onto the public highway controlled by a computer program that had logical decisions not common sense, that is the preserve of humans! Ask any professional driver their opinion on autonomous cars!” wrote another.

Will this incident mar the development of autonomous vehicles? Probably not.

The likes of Waymo continues its self-driving cars tests around San Francisco and more recently Atlanta, as the company passes the five-million miles travelled mark.

But for Uber, this is just another blemish on the company’s already spotty public image.

Feature image: Memeburn

Author | Andy Walker: Editor

Andy Walker: Editor
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone, gadget and game reviews over on Gearburn. More

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