Elaine Herzberg Killed by Self-Driving Uber: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Elaine Herzberg has been identified as the pedestrian who tragically died after being hit by a self-driving Uber in Arizona. This is likely the first pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car. This is a developing story. Read on for more details.


1. Elaine Herzberg Was 49-Years-Old

GettyAn Uber self-driving car drives down 5th Street on March 28, 2017 in San Francisco, California.

The woman who was killed by a self-driving Uber was Elaine Herzberg, who is 49-years-old, the Tempe Police Department announced. She was transferred to a local hospital after she was hit and died of her injuries. The accident happened around 10 p.m. on Sunday evening. Additional details about Herzberg have not yet been released.

The Tempe Police Department have possession of the vehicle, and Uber has not yet been able to analyze data from the car’s sensors to see what happened during the crash. The data will determine if the car was at fault. Typically, the company overseeing a self-driving car comes to the scene of an accident to help determine what happened, Recode reported.


2. She Was Crossing the Street Outside a Crosswalk, Officials Said

GettyAn Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives down Smallman Street on September, 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Officials said that Herzberg was walking outside a crosswalk when she was hit, The Guardian reported. Early reports that the victim was a bicyclist were not accurate. Police have not provided any additional details about the crash, as of the time of publication.


3. A Driver Was Behind the Wheel of the Uber at the Time

GettyAn Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives down Smallman Street on September, 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although the Uber that hit Herzberg was in Autonomous mode, this doesn’t mean the car was completely self-driving with no one inside. A driver was behind the wheel and could have taken control of the car at any time, Slate reported.


4. Uber Is Pausing Autonomous Vehicle Tests

GettyPilot models of the Uber self-driving car is displayed at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center on September 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh.

After the news of the accident, Uber announced that it’s pausing tests of its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto, and Phoenix. A spokesman said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”

Uber has been testing autonomous vehicles in Tempe since 2016. It was temporarily blocked from operating in San Francisco after a car ran a red light, but it has since returned to the city and expanded its autonomous program.


5. An Autonomous Uber Was in a Crash in Tempe in 2017, After Another Vehicle Failed to Legally Yield

GettyAn Uber driverless Ford Fusion drives down Smallman Street on September, 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In March 2017, Uber temporarily suspended its self-driving program after an autonomous vehicle was in a crash, VentureBeat reported. The driver of another vehicle had failed to yield to the Uber vehicle while making a turn, and the two cars hit each other. The Uber rolled on its side in the accident. There were no serious injuries. Two safety drivers were in the Uber, which was in self-driving mode.

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into Herzberg’s death and is sending a team to Tempe, Bloomberg reported. The NTSB rarely investigates traffic accidents, but is keeping a close eye on autonomous accidents. It investigated the 2016 Florida accident involving a Tesla and partially faulted Tesla’s Autopilot system for the fatal crash. In that case, a driver using Tesla autopilot died when his car drove into a tractor-trailer.

Still, the number of fatal accidents involving autonomous cars is far, far fewer than number of fatal accidents involving traditional cars. Nearly 1.3 million people die each year in car crashes, averaging 3,287 deaths a day. In the United States in 2013, more than 32,000 people died in U.S. car crashes, amounting to about 90 deaths a day.

This is a developing story.