Ride sharing company Uber will not face criminal charges over the crash that left a woman dead in Arizona. The fatal crash involved one of its self-driving cars, which Uber has been testing in some US cities.
Prosecutors have determined that the ride sharing company is not criminally liable for the death of the woman. Elaine Herzberg was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving car in March 2018. The fatal crash happened when the woman was crossing a road in the city of Tempe, Arizona.
Questions immediately surrounded the technology from the ride sharing company but it was found shortly after that the vehicle’s backup driver was distracted. The driver could still face criminal charges over the deadly incident.
The crash involved a Volvo XC90, one of the vehicles Uber uses to test its technology. The company’s self-driving cars drive around the US cities but they also have a backup driver who could take the wheel during an emergency.
Attorney Sheila Sullivan Polk said through a letter that after a review of all the evidence presented, their office has determined that there is no basis for criminal liability against the company.
Uber is one of the most popular ride sharing services around the world. The company has continued to grow in recent years but has made it clear that it is very interested in the self-driving technology. Several other companies have also expressed their interest but Uber is one of the few testing its self-driving cars.
Ms. Herzberg was struck and killed by the car when walking with a bicycle across a road. Footage from the dash-cam, released by authorities shortly after the incident, showed a dark road just before she was struck and killed by the car. The video appeared to show that the backup driver took her eyes off the road before the fatal crash happened.
The backup driver was behind the wheel of the car but records have shown that she may have been distracted during the incident. Records from streaming service Hulu have suggested that the backup driver was watching a TV show at the time of the incident. Reports say she was watching the TV show through a phone.
The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into the fatal crash. Last year, the organization released its first report suggesting that the sensors on the Uber car were operating normally at the time of the incident. The report also suggested that emergency braking features may not have been on at the time.
The incident led to a suspension for its self-driving cars in the state. The company later ended its testing in the state but has continued using the technology in other US cities. The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office has recommended several things, including an expert analysis of the footage and more evidence on what the backup driver would have spotted on the way.
Uber launched its self-driving pilot program back in September 2016. The launch took place in Pittsburgh, where the company brought several cars with the technology. In December 2016, the ride sharing company launched the program in San Francisco. The company faced backlash in its hometown from state regulators who said the company needed to have a permit to keep the vehicles there. In November 2017, it was reported that the company was planning to buy more than 20,000 autonomous Volvo cars. Earlier that year, its self-driving cars began picking up passengers in Arizona.
Uber has not commented on the recent information from the prosecutors.