Car in autonomous mode
Car in autonomous mode iStock

An experimental Autonomous Vehicle of the Uber company hit a pedestrian today causing her death. As far as is known, this is the first time an autonomous vehicle has caused the death of a pedestrian.

The accident took place in Tempe, Arizona. Bloomberg reported the dead woman was Elaine Herzberg, 49, who crossed the road outside the crosswalk.

The vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the accident but was operated under supervision of a human safety driver. Herzberg was transferred to a hospital but died there as a result of her wounds.

Uber announced that it is discontinuing all experiments on autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto, and Phoenix. "Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”

Autonomous mode
Autonomous mode iStock

An increasing number of autonomous machines are currently participating in experimental programs around the world, and experts have known for some time that the risk of human injury is increasing. The concern is that such cases will paralyze this developing industry while still in its early stages.

The US National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Tempe to investigate the accident.

In May 2016 a man who was operating an autonomous vehicle was killed while driving in autonomous mode.

Autonomous car Picture: Reuters
Autonomous car Picture: Reuters