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Uber axes Arizona autonomous trial
Arizona self-driving test program scrapped by Uber following fatal crash
28 May 2018
RIDE-SHARING service Uber has cancelled its Arizonian self-driving test program in the wake of a fatal crash that killed a 49-year-old woman in the city of Tempe in March.
Elaine Hezberg was struck by a self-driving Volvo XC90 while crossing the road and passed away at a hospital following the crash, making for the first reported self-driving car death involving a pedestrian.
The ride-sharing company is yet to detail the design fault that caused the car to fail to yield to the pedestrian leading up to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the crash.
Uber has said it still plans to continue the program in California and Pennsylvania, where it has previously conducted tests over recent years. Pittsburgh was chosen as the initial testing location for the program, while Sacramento and San Francisco are the two Californian cities of choice.
However the testing will now consist of shorter drive routes and smaller fleets, with the company aiming to be back on the road in time for the American summer.
Speaking to American media, an Uber spokesperson said: “We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future.”
At the time of the crash, Arizona’s governor ordered Uber to indefinitely suspend its program on the state’s roads, with Uber’s announcement last week confirming the program will not be restarted.
Arizona was reportedly chosen by Uber due to its program-friendly conditions, such as agreeable weather, state regulations and wide, flat roads.
The fatal accident was the latest in a number of hiccups for the autonomous program, with the latest occurring in 2017 when an XC90 flipped on its side, also in Tempe.
According to reports, the Volvo was not at fault for the crash, with a second vehicle failing to yield in an intersection when the Volvo had right of way.
In 2016, the San Francisco test fleet was suspended after the test mules were found to be running red lights around the city.
Volvo and Uber’s partnership began in August 2016 with the Drive Me autonomous project, with a total of $US300 million ($A389.2m) has been committed by the two companies to the project.
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