Uber has been suspended from testing autonomous vehicles in the state of Arizona following last week’s fatal crash in the city of Tempe, according to the Associated Press. The accident, which occurred at night and coincided with autonomous test driver Rafaela Vasquez looking down right before the moment of impact, left pedestrian 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg dead.
It is likely the first death caused by a self-driving vehicle, and the aftermath of the event has been severe for Uber, with the company immediately suspending self-driving operations in the state amid a US National Transportation Safety Board investigation. The Tempe Police Department is also conducting an investigation, which will eventually be turned over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.
Prior to the crash, Uber had been testing self-driving cars in Arizona since late 2016, thanks to the state’s loose regulatory stance on the technology. Uber had previously been testing its cars in San Francisco, but the company was forced to remove the vehicles by the California Department of Motor Vehicles over Uber’s refusal to obtain the required permits.
The ban came down from the office of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday, with a letter from Ducey stating that the decision is in “the best interests of the people” of Arizona following Uber’s “unquestionable failure.” Ducey’s letter also called dash cam video of the crash, which was released by the Tempe PD last week, “disturbing and alarming.” An investigation from The New York Times last Friday revealed that Uber’s self-driving program suffered several internal setbacks prior to the crash, with employees expressing safety concerns to managers and autonomous test drivers being forced to intervene more often than competing self-driving test programs.