Sunday 22 July 2018

Family of first self-drive car victim settle case with Uber

The self-driven Volvo SUV owned and operated by Uber Technologies lies on its side after the collision in Tempe, Arizona, in which a woman died. Photo: Reuters
The self-driven Volvo SUV owned and operated by Uber Technologies lies on its side after the collision in Tempe, Arizona, in which a woman died. Photo: Reuters

Rachael Alexander

The family of the woman killed by an Uber Technologies self-driving vehicle in Arizona have reached a settlement with the online taxi company, ending a potential legal battle over the first fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle.

Their lawyer Cristina Perez Hesano said "the matter has been resolved" between Uber and the daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg (49) who died after being hit by an Uber self-driving SUV in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe earlier this month.

Terms of the settlement were not given.

The law firm representing them said that Ms Herzberg's daughter and husband, whose names were not disclosed, will have no further comment on the matter as they consider it resolved .

Fallout from the accident could stall the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, which are being designed to eventually perform far better than human drivers and sharply reduce the number of motor vehicle fatalities that occur each year.

Uber has suspended its testing in the wake of the incident.

Toyota and chip-maker Nvidia have also suspended self-driving car testing on public roads as they and other companies await the results of an ongoing investigation into the Tempe incident.

Uber does not use the self-driving platform architecture of Nvidia, the chipmaker's chief executive Jensen Huang said.

Ms Herzberg's death on March 18 also presents an unprecedented liability challenge because self-driving vehicles - a technology still at the research stage - involve a complex system of hardware and software often made by outside suppliers.

She was walking her bicycle outside the pedestrian crossing on a four-lane road when she was struck.

A video taken from a dash-mounted camera inside the vehicle that was released by police showed the SUV travelling along a darkened street when suddenly the headlights illuminated Ms Herzberg in front of the SUV.

Other footage showed the human driver who was behind the wheel mostly looking down and not at the road in the seconds before the accident.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News