Uber agrees settlement with family of self-driving car victim

Elaine Herzberg died after being hit by an Uber self-driving car in the US earlier this month

A car passes the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle
A car passes the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle

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

Cristina Perez Hesano, attorney with the firm of Bellah Perez in Glendale, Arizona, 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.

The terms of the settlement were not given. The law firm representing Herzberg’s daughter and husband, whose names were not disclosed, said they would have no further comment on the matter as they considered it resolved.

An Uber spokeswoman declined to comment.

The fallout from the accident could stall the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, designed to eventually perform far better than human drivers and to 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 chipmaker Nvidia have also suspended self-driving car testing on public roads, as they and other companies await the results of an investigation into the Tempe incident, believed to be the first death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving vehicle.

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

The 18 March fatality near downtown Tempe also presents an unprecedented liability challenge because self-driving vehicles, which are still in the development stage, involve a complex system of hardware and software often made by outside suppliers.

Ms Herzberg was walking her bicycle outside the crosswalk on a four-lane road when she was struck. Video footage from a dash-mounted camera inside the vehicle, released by Tempe police, showed the SUV travelling along a dark street when the headlights suddenly illuminated Ms Herzberg in front of the SUV.

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

Reuters

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