State Governor Doug Ducey has withdrawn permission for the company to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Arizona, one week after the accident that killed 49-year-old pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg.
It has been reported in the US that Herzberg was, or had been, homeless.
“Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona’s approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona,” Ducey wrote in a letter to Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.
“The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation.”
While there is no news of similar moves by other states, any preliminary finding that Uber’s technology is at fault would inevitably lead to national suspension.
Change of heart?
After the incident, Arizona police chief Sylvia Moir said the accident may have been unavoidable. However, this latest move by the Arizona authorities may suggest that they now believe Uber’s technology was at fault.
Arizona police issued a video of the incident last week, which shows that the car failed to slow down or take evasive action to avoid hitting Herzberg, who was crossing the road with a bicycle.
Some analysts now believe that, while the car’s onboard cameras might have been impaired by the low light conditions, its LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system should have had time to register Herzberg’s presence. The fact that this didn’t happen may suggest that the laser-based system was switched off, malfunctioning, or ineffective.