A couple of weeks ago, Uber hit the headlines when a test of one of their driver-less vehicles hit and subsequently killed a woman in the street in Tempe, Arizona.
Tempe police said the self-driving car was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and that the vehicle hit a woman, who was walking outside of the designated crosswalk with a bicycle and later died in hospital. There was a vehicle operator inside the car at the time of the crash. The self-driving technology is supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and others and prevent crashes.
Uber has been testing its self-driving cars in numerous states and temporarily suspended its vehicles in Arizona last year after a crash involving one of its vehicles, a Volvo SUV. When the company first began testing its self-driving cars in California in 2016, the vehicles were caught running red lights, leading to a high-profile dispute between state regulators and the San Francisco-based corporation.
This week, Governor Doug Ducey released a letter he sent to Uber, forbidding the company resuming the self-driving tests in the state of Arizona.
A video showing the incident has been released. It shows the car’s operator looking down for about 5 seconds before it collides with the pedestrian.
“I found the video to be disturbing and alarming, and it raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona,” wrote Mr Ducey.
He added that he had ordered officials to suspend the firm’s right to drive autonomous vehicles on local roads pending the outcome of inquiries by national transport safety regulators.
The Governor’s tone contrasts with a statement given in 2016, when Mr Ducey said he welcomed the company’s self-driving fleet “with open arms and wide open roads”.