Uber suspended its self-driving testing on Monday after the fatal crash. The testing has been going on for months as automakers and technology companies compete to roll out the technology.

A self-driving Uber in Scottsdale, Arizona, US. December 1, 2017.
A self-driving Uber in Scottsdale, Arizona, US. December 1, 2017. ( Reuters Archive )

Uber suspended all of its self-driving testing on Monday after what is believed to be the first fatal pedestrian crash involving the vehicles.

Uber’s testing was halted after police in a Phoenix suburb said one of its self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian overnight on Sunday. 

The vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel when a woman walking outside of a crosswalk was hit, Tempe police Sergeant Ronald Elcock said.

The woman, whose name hasn’t been released, died of her injuries at a hospital.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

The federal government has voluntary guidelines for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles, leaving much of the regulation up to states.

The US Department of Transportation is considering other voluntary guidelines that it says will help foster innovation. 

But Transportation Secretary Elaine Chaos has said technology and automobile companies need to allay public fears of self-driving vehicles, citing a poll showing that 78 percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles.

The number of states considering legislation related to autonomous vehicles gradually has increased each year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2017 alone, 33 states introduced legislation.

California is among those that require manufacturers to report any incidents to the motor vehicle department during the autonomous vehicle testing phase. 

As of early March, the agency received 59 such reports.

Source: AP