Uber’s self-driving cars banned after it kills woman

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Uber was ordered to suspend testing of its autonomous vehicles on Arizona roads Monday evening, eight days after one of its cars struck and killed a woman in Tempe.

State officials said the ride-hailing service had failed to meet an expectation that it would prioritize public safety as it tested the technology.

“The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation,” Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona wrote in a letter sent to Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive. “Arizona must take action now.”

Uber had already suspended all testing of its cars in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

“We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week. We 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,” said Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman.

The rebuke from the governor is a reversal from what has been an open-arms policy by the state, heralding its lack of regulation as an asset to lure autonomous vehicle testing — and tech jobs. Waymo, the self-driving car company spun out from Google, and General Motors-owned Cruise are also testing cars in the state

Mr. Ducey said he was troubled by a video released from the Tempe Police Department that seemed to show that neither the Uber safety driver nor the autonomous vehicle detected the presence of a pedestrian in the road in the moments before the crash.

The police said the car never slowed down before striking 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was pushing a bicycle across the road. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash with the local police, has not yet ruled whether the company was at fault.

The governor’s decision comes after The New York Times reported that Uber’s autonomous vehicles had struggled to meet company targets for reliability in the months leading up to crash.

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