Uber is 'likely' not at fault in the fatal self-driving car crash, local police chief says

  • Uber is "likely" not at fault in a crash by one of its self-driving cars that killed a 49-year-old woman, the local police chief has said.
  • The accident, in Tempe, Arizona, is believed to be the first time an autonomous vehicle has killed a pedestrian.
  • Police investigators have video footage of the crash, though it has not been released to the public.


SAN FRANCISCO — Uber is "likely" not at fault in first-of-its-kind fatal self-driving car crash on Sunday in Tempe, Arizona, the local police chief has said.

On Sunday night, one of the transportation company's vehicles operating in autonomous mode hit and killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, in what is believed to be the first time a self-driving vehicle has killed a pedestrian. 

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir said that "I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this incident."

There is video of the crash, which investigators are examining but not been released to the public. "It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway," Moir said. Police have previously said Herzberg was not using a crosswalk. 

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Uber self-driving car fatally hits woman

Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating
the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available

(Photo via Tempe Police Dept.)

Burned out flares lie at the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
Tempe Police Sergeant Ronald Elcock speaks to the media after a female pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
Traffic passes an intersection just north of the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
A car passes the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S. March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
Tempe Police Sergeant Ronald Elcock speaks to the media after a female pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
A truck passes the location where a woman pedestrian was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, U.S. March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
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There was a vehicle operator in the driver's seat at the time of the crash, and "the driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them," she said. "His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision."

But, she reportedly added: "I won’t rule out the potential to file charges against the (backup driver) in the Uber vehicle."

Tempe Police Department did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment outside of regular business hours.

The vehicle was travelling at around 40 miles per hour at the time of the collision, a police spokesperson previously said, and did not appear to slow down when Herzberg entered the road

Uber has halted all its self-driving car operations while the investigation takes place.

In an earlier statement, an Uber spokesperson said: "Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident."

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SEE ALSO: Self-driving cars could face a 'huge setback' after the tragic death of a woman struck by an autonomous Uber

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