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Uber reaches settlement in autonomous vehicle fatality


April 2, 2018   by The Associated Press


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PHOENIX – The family of an Arizona woman killed when struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle apparently has reached a settlement with the company.

Cristina Perez Hesano, an attorney for the daughter and husband of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, disclosed no details and responded Thursday to inquiries by The Associated Press by saying only that the matter “has been resolved.”

FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2016 file photo, Uber’s autonomous car heads out for a test drive in San Francisco. Uber has decided to stop testing autonomous vehicles on California public roads by letting its state permit expire on Saturday, March 31, 2018, without renewing it. Immediately after the crash, Uber voluntarily suspended its autonomous vehicle testing in Arizona, as well as California, Pittsburgh and Toronto. The company said in a statement that it decided not to reapply for the California permit “with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate in the state in the immediate future.” (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Herzberg was killed March 18 as she walked her bike across a dark street in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb.

Uber representatives Sarah Abboud and Matthew Wing separately responded to queries from the AP about a possible settlement by saying the San Francisco-based company is declining to comment. The company previously expressed sympathy for Herzberg’s family and said it would co-operate with investigators.

There was no indication that Herzberg’s relatives had filed a lawsuit against Uber in connection with the crash, which Tempe police and federal agencies are investigating.

On March 21, Tempe police released a 22-second video showing Herzberg walking from a darkened area onto a street just before an Uber SUV strikes her. The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel when it struck Herzberg, police said.

The human backup driver appears to be looking down until just before impact.

Related: Uber suspends testing of automated cars after pedestrian killed

The fatal crash in Tempe was the first pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving vehicle in the United States.

Uber suspended its autonomous vehicle testing program in Arizona, California, Pittsburgh and Toronto after the crash. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey suspended the company’s testing privileges Monday.

On Thursday, he said he wants local and federal law enforcement to complete their investigation before commenting about the crash, though he reiterated his support for the development of self-driving vehicles.

“We are working with the organizations that are investigating this,” Ducey said. “We are also going to continue to work on making our roads and highways safer. We believe autonomous vehicles can help do that.”

Related: Deadly crash raises questions about Uber self-driving system

Ducey, a Republican, said in a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that video footage of the crash raised concerns about the company’s ability to safely test its technology in Arizona. Ducey said he expects public safety to be the top priority for those who operate self-driving cars.

“The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation,” Ducey said.

Ducey previously welcomed Uber and other autonomous vehicle companies to use Arizona as a place for testing under few, if any, regulations.

In early March, he authorized self-driving vehicle companies to run tests without a person in the car to act as a safety operator.


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