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Uber self-driving prototype involved in a fatal crash investigated by police

Local news in Tempe, Arizona are reporting a Uber self-driving prototype was involved in a fatal crash with a cyclist. Local police are currently investigating.

The accident reportedly occurred early this morning at the corner of Mill Avenue and Curry Road. According to Tempe Police, a woman with a bicycle was crossing the street at a cross walk when she was struck by the Uber self-driving prototype on autonomous mode with a Uber employee at the wheel.

She was taken to the hospital, but she later died from her injuries, according to ABC15.

The police are now investigating the accident and Uber said it was cooperating with the authorities.

Update: Uber said that they are halting their test program following the accident.

Here’s the report from ABC15:

Electrek’s Take

This tragic accident could be the first death involved with a self-driving vehicle.

The highly publicized death with a Tesla Model S owner in his vehicle on Autopilot has often been referred by the media as the first fatality from a self-driving car, but the vehicle was not self-driving since Tesla’s Autopilot is considered only a level 2 driver assist system with the driver always responsible for the vehicle.

But Uber’s vehicles are being tested as autonomous prototypes for their planned driverless ride-hailing service.

Here’s some context on the company’s controversial autonomous driving program:

The company has been highly criticized for their self-driving effort, which was kickstarted by their acquisition of Otto, which in turn led them to be sued by Google’s Waymo over the theft of the technology – a lawsuit that the companies recently settled after Uber paid $250 million to Waymo.

When first testing their cars in California, they had some issues with the authorities which led the California DMV to shut down Uber’s unlicensed self-driving car program in reaction to footage of a prototype running a red light in front of a pedestrian.

The company claimed that the vehicle was being driven by the engineer at the time it ran a red light, but other reports contradicted Uber’s statement.

It led to them moving most of their effort to Arizona, where one of their prototypes was quickly involved in an accident – though the police said Uber was not at fault.

And now this tragic fatal accident that is adding to Uber’s long list of problems with their self-driving vehicle program.

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