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Uber is shutting down self-driving tests in Arizona two months after its car killed a pedestrian

Reuters/Natalie Behring
One of Uber’s self-driving vehicles in Arizona.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Roughly two months after a self-driving Uber test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian while in autonomous mode in Arizona, the ride-hailing company announced May 23 that it’s ending self-driving car trials in the state.

Uber notified the 200 people it employed as safety drivers in Arizona, who monitored its autonomous cars as they drove around collecting training data, that they would be let go today, AZ Central reported. They’ll be asked to leave by this coming Wednesday morning, but the complete wind down of Uber’s Phoenix area testing facility may take a few weeks.

“We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,” an Uber spokesperson told Quartz. ”In the meantime, we remain focused on our top-to-bottom safety review, having brought on former [National Transportation Safety Board] Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.”

The company plans to soon restart tests in Pittsburgh, its original test city and where its advanced research lab is headquartered, as well as in San Francisco, which it paused after the crash. Uber has no plans to stop offering its regular, human-operated service in Arizona.

On March 18, Elaine Herzberg was walking her bike across a highway in Tempe, Arizona, when an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode approached, failed to spot her, and struck her. The car’s safety driver appeared to be looking away from the road in the moments before the crash in footage recorded by a camera in the Uber. Herzberg’s family settled with Uber later in the month, quelling some of the debate as to who was at fault in what was likely the first death by an autonomous vehicle in the US, if not the world.

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