Arizona Governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber's license to conduct self-driving tests in the country following an accident involving one of the company's autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs that caused a pedestrian death last week, Associated Press reports. The ride-hailing firm is said to have been notified of the development via a letter authored by the Governor on Monday, with the 53-year-old Republican representative referring to the incident as "an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation." The suspension is indefinite in nature but is likely to be reviewed after Tempe authorities conclude their investigation of the fatal crash that happened in Tempe on March 18. The probe is expected to be completed later this spring.
"We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week. We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we'll keep a dialogue open with the Governor's office to address any concerns they have," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement provided to AndroidHeadlines. Arizona is one of the states that are the most receptive to self-driving vehicle testing in the country, with Governor Ducey previously referring to the emerging technology as a promising avenue of reducing the number of fatalities on public roads. The Tempe incident is the world's first autonomous driving crash that resulted in a pedestrian fatality. According to preliminary results of an investigation conducted by local authorities, the 49-year-old woman who ended up being hit by a self-driving Uber was at fault for the crash, having been crossing a high-speed and poorly lit road outside of a crosswalk. Some experts who examined the video footage of the incident released by police authorities said Uber's sensors should have still detected the pedestrian even if the person was difficult to see to a human. The backup driver present in the car during the crash appears to have been looking down until the moment of impact, as per the same footage.
Traffic accidents took the lives of over 40,000 people in the U.S. in 2017 alone, according to a February report published by the National Safety Council. Uber still hasn't disclosed when it's planning to resume its self-driving testing operations in other states where its autonomous fleet is currently present. When asked about the matter by AndroidHeadlines, an Uber spokesperson declined to comment.