US examines self-driving SUV in deadly crash

Associated Press

Federal transportation authorities examined a self-driving SUV in suburban Phoenix in an investigation of the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle.

A vehicle goes by the scene of Sunday's fatality where a pedestrian was stuck by an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode, in Tempe, Ariz., Monday, March 19, 2018.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board were in Tempe on Tuesday to investigate the crash of the self-driving Uber vehicle that fatally struck a pedestrian.

The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human backup driver at the wheel Sunday when it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk.

Uber immediately suspended all road testing of such cars in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The federal agency says it won’t release any findings until its investigation is complete. The investigators viewed a video of crash and began collecting data stored on the vehicle.

The deadly crash caused a call for tougher self-driving regulations. But advocates for a hands-off approach say big changes aren’t needed.

Police in Tempe, Arizona, say Herzberg walked in front of the Uber SUV Sunday night. Neither the automated system nor the human backup driver stopped in time. Local authorities haven’t determined fault.

Current federal regulations have few requirements specifically for self-driving vehicles, leaving it for states to handle. Many, such as Arizona, Nevada and Michigan, cede key decisions to companies.

Many federal and state officials say their regulations are sufficient to keep people safe while allowing the potentially life-saving technology to grow.