Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has put the kibosh on Uber autonomous vehicle testing in the state following a fatal crash on March 18 in Tempe.
In a Monday letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Ducey said he found a video of the accident, released last week by Tempe police, to be “disturbing and alarming, and it raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona.” Ducey went on to say that he expects public safety to be “the top priority” of all firms that operate autonomous vehicles in the state.
NEW: In light of the fatal Uber crash in Tempe, Governor Ducey sends this letter to Uber ordering the company to suspend its testing of autonomous vehicles in Arizona indefinitely #12News pic.twitter.com/gO5BZB9P2e
— Bianca Buono (@BiancaBuono) March 27, 2018
The accident – believed to be first time an autonomous vehicle has killed a pedestrian on public roads – “is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation,” Ducey continued. “In the best interests of the people of my state, I have directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to suspend Uber’s ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona’s public roadways.”
“Arizona will not tolerate any less than an unequivocal commitment to public safety,” he wrote.
Uber has been testing its autonomous vehicles in Tempe since February 2017. Ducey originally welcomed them with open arms, and was among the first in the state to ride in one.
In response to the suspension, Uber reportedly pointed out that it already “proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week.” In addition to Tempe, Uber halted its self-driving trials in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.
“We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we’ll keep a dialogue open with the Governor’s office going forward,” Uber added.
The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are currently investigating the crash.
Video of the fatal accident shows the self-driving car failing to stop as 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg crosses the middle of the road with her bicycle at night. The Uber vehicle, which was in self-driving mode and traveling at approximately 40mph, doesn’t appear to slow down. Herzberg was transported to a nearby hospital, where she died.
Several rival autonomous vehicle technology makers have already weighed on the crash. Intel on Monday took a shot at Uber, suggesting its own driver assistance technology could have helped avoid the accident. Meanwhile, the CEO for Alphabet’s self-driving car company Waymo reportedly said: “We have a lot of confidence that our technology would be able to handle a situation like that.”