Uber escapes criminal charges for 2018 self-driving death in Arizona

Uber escapes criminal charges for 2018 self-driving death in Arizona

Uber escapes criminal charges for 2018 self-driving death in Arizona

Uber will not be held criminally liable in the fatal crash previous year in Tempe, Arizona, in which a self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian, a county prosecutor announced Tuesday.

The crash took place last March when one of Uber's autonomous SUVs, traveling about 40 miles per hour, struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bike across a dark section of a street.

"After a very thorough review of all evidence presented, this office has determined that there is no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation", wrote Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Sullivan Polk in a letter.

Vasquez, the Uber back-up driver, could face charges of vehicular manslaughter, according to a police report in June. Calls left late Tuesday afternoon at the offices of Polk and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery weren't immediately returned.

As Reuters noted, the National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are still investigating and may reach different conclusions about who is to blame.

Prosecutors said it had not found any evidence to charge Uber for the fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona. Uber's ability to test the autonomous cars in the state was halted after the accident.

The crash involved a Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle that Uber was using to test self-driving technology. The Prescott-based office is also referring the criminal case against Uber back to Maricopa County for further review.

Police obtained records from Hulu, an online service for streaming TV shows and movies, which showed Vasquez's account was playing the TV talent show "The Voice" for about 42 minutes on the night of the crash, ending at 9:59 p.m., which "coincides with the approximate time of the collision", the report said.

Polk did not elaborate on her reasoning in the letter, but did add that since it has determined Uber can not be held criminally liable in the incident, Maricopa County officials are now free to investigate whether the operator was negligent.

The Tempe police report also found that the crash would not have occurred if Vasquez "would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted", it read.

However, a spokesperson for the Yavapai County Attorney's Office said in an email that no comment will be made while the case is still pending. There is no consensus on safety standards for the industry. Uber also voluntarily halted its entire autonomous auto testing program and left Arizona.

Uber stopped testing its self-driving vehicles in Arizona after the accident but has focused on a smaller program in Pittsburgh.

In December, Uber resumed limited self-driving auto testing in Pittsburgh, restricting the cars to a small loop they can drive only in good weather. Uber lost approximately $3.3 billion a year ago, Reuters added, and investors looking to buy into its forthcoming initial public offering (which it hopes will reach $120 billion) may view the self-driving programme's massive budget sceptically.

Uber has not resumed testing in San Francisco or Toronto, where it previously had programs.

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