Uber Car In Self-Driving Mode Struck And Killed A Pedestrian, Company Suspends Program

One of Uber’s autonomous Volvo XC90s has been involved in a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona.

While the accident is still under investigation, ABC15 reports the accident occurred early this morning when a woman was crossing a street and was struck by the vehicle. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital but she eventually passed away.

Details are limited but the Tempe Police have reportedly confirmed the vehicle was operating autonomously at the time of the crash and had a safety driver behind the wheel. If true, this potentially means both the vehicle and the safety driver failed to notice the woman.

The incident is obviously tragic but the report notes the woman wasn’t using a crossover walk. Given the time when the accident occurred, it’s possible the safety driver didn’t see the woman and wasn’t anticipating someone crossing the street in a non-designated area. This would have been the ideal time for the autonomous driving system to bring the vehicle to a halt but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

We’ve reached out to Uber for additional information but the company has already released a short statement on Twitter saying “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.”

An Uber spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the company “is temporarily pulling its self-driving cars off the roads in Tempe, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto, where it is testing them”.

This isn’t Uber’s first crash but the fatal nature of the accident will likely cause intense scrutiny of the company’s autonomous driving technology and safety procedures. The crash also brings renewed focus to Arizona’s openness for fully autonomous vehicles as the state already allows Waymo to operate without safety drivers and recently approved the company’s fully-autonomous ride-hailing service.


Thanks to Vern for the tip!

  • EyalN

    oh well. i’m not going to say i told you so

    • DJ

      Go ahead It’s fun Lol

    • Tostik

      The Tempe Police department has said that the woman walked out into the street where there was no pedestrian crossover, and she came out of the shadows. It is likely a human that was driving wouldn’t have seen her either.

  • willhaven

    Think of all the scams and lawsuits! If you’re a piece of shit, this automation trend is going to be a gold mine.

    • EyalN

      lawsuits are not going to help you if you are dead. if uber will have 10 autonomous cars in London they will kill someone every week, it is even worst that the drivers they have there now.
      in 10-20 year autonomous cars will work right.

      • LeStori

        Humans will still be same old technology. Developed eons ago with no AI updates for the last 200 to 300 thousand years. Prone to poor programing, eratic behaviour and extremely variable AI capability.

      • Status

        10 autonomous cars in London will kill someone every week? Is that hysterical fear mongering or unscientific non-fact?

        Are you aware of how many people are killed daily by cars operated by people?

        • Six_Tymes

          you did not just say that, oh wait, you did. so, you think the only reason for autonomous was so people dont have to drive? wow, where have you been living under a rock? and if i come off as insulting, I am, because I take offense to your disgusting analogy.

          • Status

            I never said I think the only reason for autonomous exist was so people didn’t have to drive. You said that, you typed that, and you seem to think I think that.

            You’re not even insulting to me, because to for me to be insulted by you, you’d actually had to have had at least one of the three qualities I listed above to be true.

    • Six_Tymes

      the other pos’s are like people above your post.

  • Jay

    Keep it up with the beta tests you automakers and ride sharing companies you’ll all go broke…

    • LWOAP

      Uber not Volvo.

      • Jay

        Referring to the idea itself. This is just uber but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen with the others.

        • Six_Tymes

          thats why he posted “Uber not Volvo.

          • Jay

            I stated both ridesharing and automakers but they were only referring to uber?

      • Six_Tymes

        True, and Uber short history, next to nothing in experience, and don’t care about peoples lives. I mean why would they go into full test mode when its not yet level 5? just care about pushing the tech to make the money first. sick minded company in my opinion, i sure don’t support them, and never will.

        • Jay

          Google has had accidents too. Im sure just about all the companies experimenting have had incidents.

  • tt tt

    There’s gotta be footage from the many on-board cameras right? I think its too early to point fingers. Some accidents are unavoidable.

  • Status

    There was a driver behind the wheel and the victim was jaywalking. The software and the driver were looking for pedestrians in crosswalks, not jaywalkers.

    • Mike Sinyaboot
      • Status

        So it’s less of a jaywalking matter and more of a less than obvious lane sharing design where bicycle traffic and right-turning traffic both need to accommodate the same space.

        Really, the bike lane should have been parallel to the right curb. Having it cut across a turning lane should have never been allowed. I wouldn’t be surprised if cyclist/car collisions have occurred in similarly designed roads.

        • Mike Sinyaboot

          Agreed. To me at least, this accident appears to be a direct result of poor lane design. This is a 4 lane highway/road also appears to be a main artery through Tempe. It has a 45mph speed limit and branches into 5 lanes at the major intersections. The way that the bike lane and the right hand turn lane cross one another is an obvious hazard. I would also not be surprised if similar accidents had occurred at this same spot.

          I understand that bicyclist have the right to share the road with cars. However, this is a bad idea in my opinion, even if there is a bike lane. Accidents happen and if you are on a bike, you are going to lose badly. It is not worth the risk of being destroyed by a 2-ton piece of metal traveling at speed.

        • Jay

          So it wasn’t smart enough to check the lane before the crossed/merged lanes. This is going to be a big mess.

          Automakers should spend money trying to get better drivers in their cars this is not worth the lives..

          • Mike Sinyaboot

            I disagree. We simply don’t have enough information. It appears that the bike does not have any lights on it. If this is the case, it would be difficult to see at night, especially considering the design of the lanes. For all we know, the bicyclist cut in front of the Volvo when he realized he was in the right hand turn lane and wanted to get back into the bike lane. It is also possible the Volvo was at fault.

          • Jay

            Doesn’t even matter. We have computers killing people. In most cases accidents like this are 50/50 but cars can’t get fined or put in jail.

          • Status

            So it’s more alarming, to you, if a computer can ‘kill someone’, but the innumerable car accidents that have happened today the world over are passable.

            And you’re right, a car cannot be fined or imprisoned, but a coder can be. You may wish to not invest yourself in hysteria.

          • Jay

            That’s why the car has infrared cameras… it should have been able to detect the rider no matter what. I assume the both of them(rider and car) assumes the other would yield.

          • Status

            Automakers shouldn’t spend money trying to get better drivers in their cars. Isn’t that a job for driver education, something that was never the purview of an automaker?

            Besides, the best drivers in their cars happen to be race car drivers, but no automaker is going to pay the public to drive their cars, just like how no computer manufacturer is going to pay the public to use their computer properly.

          • Jay

            The coding can’t stop the cars from injuring people. And since accidents will happen regardless of who or what’s behind the wheel why would rather it be a computer?

          • Status

            Because humans have a well documented and lengthy history of lying and deceiving one another.

          • Jay

            Because humans have the only history. The more accidents these autonomous cars have the less people will want to use them.

          • Status

            Well humans have the only recorded history worth a damn.

            But to your baseless fear-mongering, I’m sure people said the exact same thing with the very first cars; “if people keep crashing and killing people, nobody will ever want to use them”.

            Fat lot of good that kind of thinking did.

          • Jay

            That thinking is what brought the idea of autonomous cars in the first place. You disagree with that thinking now? Also by you saying humans have the only history world th a damn, what other history is there?

          • Status

            I don’t, because I maintain that humans are incapable of driving cars responsibly and incapable of making coordinated actions while driving that don’t result in anger of other drivers, undue traffic delays, and waste of time and resources.

            As for the history, I never said there was’t other histories. There’s geological history, biological history, astronomical history, but as I said, only humans have the only recorded history worth a damn, and that means exactly what it means.

          • Jay

            According to the accidents from autonomous vehicles they are already proving to be accident prone. They are a waste of time and resources because they put human lives at risk just as much as human drivers. the system will never be perfect no matter how much they learn because the system is man made meaning it will fail.

    • Mike Sinyaboot



    This highlights another problem for autonomous cars. Not only will they have to react quickly to unpredictable human behavior but when accidents do occur, who’s at fault here?

    Was it the vehicle’s software for not reacting quick enough or was it the pedestrian for not using the crosswalk?

    • Mike Sinyaboot
      • LWOAP

        Thanks. Looks to me like poor lane design. I’ve never seen a bike lane cut across a turning lane like that up until now.

        • Mike Sinyaboot

          Me neither. This lane design just looks dangerous. This road and especially this intersection appear to deal with significant traffic. It may be legal but I think it is just plain stupid that people would bike on this road, even with the designated bike lane. Motorcycles are already dangerous due to their size as many drivers fail to see them. Bicycles are even worse, especially at night with no lighting of any kind. In my opinion, bikes have no business being on roads with 2+ ton hunks of steel. Bicyclists are too slow and have absolutely no protection should and when an accident occurs.

          • Randy Terpstra

            Mike, I geo-located, as well, with Streetview. Not only is the bike lane design poor, but there’s a paved path, crossing through the medium, at that point. However, the path does not come road level, at the curb. The woman may have dismounted her bike, heading to/from that path across the medium.

  • BlackPegasus

    “This isn’t Uber’s first crash but the fatal nature of the accident will likely cause intense scrutiny of the company’s autonomous driving technology and safety procedures”
    ? Meanwhile somewhere in the United States several people will be killed TODAY alone by a distracted HUMAN driver.

    • Jason Miller


  • Nick099

    An easily predictable outcome.
    The asylum inmates are running the car companies.

  • Randy Terpstra

    Since when is someone riding a bicycle, a pedestrian? I might be nit-picking, but a un-lit bicycle, at night, in the middle of a major urban street, changes the dynamics considerably.

    RIP to the cyclist.

  • TrevP

    Not good

  • ErnieB

    Come on.. we all knew Uber was going to be the first to kill someone with this tech..

  • Smart22186

    Volvo have some world leading safety gear, I appreciate that this can and does occur on a daily basis with all the safety gear available (from all car companies) but do UBER deactivate the Volvo Systems in order to supersede them with their gear? its a very complicated mine field. I cant imagine why Volvo would want anything to do with this?

  • lagunas3ca

    I guess running red lights wasn’t enough.

  • WM sap

    yeah like we didnt see this coming

  • Adilos Nave

    What the hell!? I thought news agencies weren’t supposed to show a victim in photos if they were deceased. Injured is OK, but not dead. Man, have we lost all decency and respect of others???!!! (I already know that answer)

    • Status

      You see a dead body somewhere in the video?

    • Mike Sinyaboot

      Settle down there champ. The victim is not “shown” in the photos or video. What you lazily glanced at and decided was a human is in fact trash/grocery bags tied onto the front of the bike. It is extremely easy to see if you actually took the time to look. Instead, you chose ignorant OUUTTRRAAGGEEEEE!!!!!

      • Adilos Nave

        Oh, you’re right. Saw the crumpled bike and smashed front of the Volvo and jumped to a conclusion that many people would do given the photo and accompanying headline.

        • Mike Sinyaboot

          “Jumped to a conclusion that many people would do”……hahaha. You are the only person in this entire comment section that jumped to that conclusion. Rational individuals (everyone in this comment section other than yourself) actually read the article, watched the video, and looked at the photo for more than 1/2 second allowing them to clearly see there is no picture of the deceased victim. Instead, you chose to be both lazy and ignorant to push your stupid narrative. OUUTTTRRRAAAGGEEEEE!!!!!

          You created a false narrative based on your admitted ignorance and inability to use basic skills of reading and comprehension. You then hilariously answer your own pathetic question about a narrative created entirely in your own head….one that doesn’t exist. You are suggesting that “WE” have “lost all decency and respect for others” by accusing a single news organization of doing something they clearly did not do.

          “I already know that answer” ….What answer do you know? That you created a situation that has no basis in reality? That you are lazy? Ignorant? Just plain stupid? Well…I already know that answer…You are a moron.

          Next time you attempt to portray yourself as morally superior to others, it would be a good idea to actually have a rational argument based on reality. Also, it is entirely possible that you might need glasses considering you mistook a couple grocery bags for a dead person.

          • Adilos Nave

            No need to stoop to troll levels in your name-calling. Some people still have the ability to properly argue. What narrative was I trying to push? Decency and the news not showing pictures of the deceased? Look, USA Today got into a LOT of heat way back in 1995 when Fabio Casartelli was tragically killed during a Tour de France stage. They printed the paper with a huge picture of him splayed out in the road with blood all around. He died while being flown to the hospital. Perhaps I was the only person to jump to this conclusion but Casartelli’s crash is why I did. It seemed eerily similar. And you can’t tell me that just casually glancing at the picture with a busted Volvo and crumpled bike laying in the street that I should have automatically known it was garbage bags. Total click-bait picture.

    • bxniels0

      @evansolida:disqus If it’s any consolation, I saw the image, immediately thought it was a body and quickly scrolled further down.

  • lagunas3ca

    When you want your grandchildren’s grandchildren to have Uber money…

  • DJ

    WOW. GO figure. A software designed intelligence that is not prepared for something it hasn’t experienced or been pre programmed to anticipate. Oh well now that it has happened it can be added to the database. It’s like letting a driver on permit loose without a trained driver. Just leave a trail of dead pets and people behind until they learn. Lol

    • Status

      No different than jurisdictions that continue to let convicted drunk drivers have a licence.

  • Mike Sinyaboot
  • Mark Seven-Ultranine

    Why on earth are they rushing autonomous vehicles? And flying cars, can you just imagine the disasters in the sky over your neighborhood? Count me out.

    • Status

      That’s why manually operated flying cars are a pipe dream. Everyday would be small-scale 9/11 somewhere in the world.

      Nevertheless, autonomous cars are coming.

  • Mynameis Taylor

    people are so quick to judge and jump to conclusions without any facts. It’s an unfortunate situation

  • Well we know that self-serving cars works best when the other vehicles on the road are also self-serving and in constant communication with each other. We don’t know the facts of this accident, but I would hope this self-driving vehicle has some sort of radar to watch out for the unpredictability of a human on a bicycle or crossing the street. Even dumb cars today are now carry anti-collision radar with automatic braking.

  • Autoexperte

    These Uber cars are closed to road traffic and these autonomous cars only operate in a traffic made solely for autonomous cars

  • Six_Tymes

    are they (uber) testing level 5? if not, then why the F. poor lady, this is really awful

  • Smith

    This will be put down to “acceptable casualties” in the search for the future of the automobile. I hope the family sue Uber, the driver, Volvo and the State of Arizona for incompetence and for man slaughter. This is totally wrong.

  • Jayen DeHaart

    So from what I can tell, the AI driven car hit a bicyclist (why do they keep saying pedestrian?) and now the world is losing its collective mind. Ironic that bicyclists are hit and killed quite regularly and no one really seems to take that much notice unless its an uber using AI. Maybe she is being referred to as a pedestrian because people don’t actually know what to call people who ride bicycles? What about the thousands killed on bikes by HUMAN drivers?

    From the quotes and scene here- and as an avid cyclist- it would seem that the road and the layout may be somewhat to blame for the crash. Was she wearing a helmet? Was the driver watching the road? Did she have flashing lights when riding at night? Why does the right turn lane cross over the bike lane? There are lots of questions here and they will all have to be sorted. Unfortunately, people are stupid and many people are terrible drivers and we will be stuck with them for some time to come. Knee jerk reactions to one accident in how many miles have actually been driven?

  • Alexandro Pietro

    Autonomous cars can help Govern of USA to the project of reduction of population,thing that Rockefeller sayd before dying,USA´s Makers can help a lot with this Millionary´s preocupations…

  • smartacus

    Where’s the media outrage?

  • Jayen DeHaart

    Sorry to blow a hole through the diatribe that must have taken you quite a bit of time to write.

    Apparently the woman was probably drunk and/or on drugs. In many cases drivers who hit people who “fall into the road” are not found liable and not charged with manslaughter unless there is gross negligence. Let the investigation run its course and I think you will find it is not the fault of the AI or the driver who was behind the wheel.

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