Uber loses permission to test self-driving vehicles in Arizona

The governor of Arizona suspended Uber's permission to test self-driving vehicles in Arizona in the wake of an accident that killed a pedestrian on March 21, 2018.

Governor Doug Ducey sent a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi saying that the video footage of the crash raised concerns about the ability of the company to test their technology in a safe way. He said that public safety should be their priority for those operating self-driving cars.

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

The Republican governor has been known for being positive when it comes to self-driving technology. In fact, he allowed Uber and other self-driving companies to use Arizona for testing with very few, if any, regulations.  Early in March, he authorized self-driving companies to run tests on vehicles without a person in the car to act as a safety operator. 

The dire consequence of this was evidenced on March 21, when the police in Tempe released a 22-second video showing how an Uber SUV struck her just after she had walked out of a darkened area onto the street. The police said that the Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human back-up driver when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.

The human backup seemed to be looking down at the time of the accident. This is the first fatality involving a self-driving car in the United States.  

After the incident, Uber immediately suspended their test in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. The company released a statement that said it will "continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the Governor's office to address any concerns they have."

However, even if Uber decides to resume their testing on self-driving vehicles, the governor's suspension means that they will not be able to continue doing so in the State of Arizona. 


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