23:17 GMT21 October 2020
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    The family of Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a self-driving car on March 18 in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, has reached a settlement with Uber just ten days after the fatal accident.

    Cristina Perez Hesano, an attorney representing the daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg, told Reuters that the "matter has been resolved," but would not elaborate on the terms of the settlement. The law firm Hesano works with, Bellah Perez, said that the husband's and daughter's names will remain private and that they would have no additional comments.

    Uber has also declined to comment.

    The day after the crash,the ride-sharing company's PR team tweeted, "Our hearts go out to the victim's family." Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi then added that it was "incredibly sad news" and that they're "thinking of the victim's family." Uber has also issued periodic statements on Twitter reminding followers that they're cooperating with authorities in the investigation and that they suspended all self-driving operations in every city. Uber's PR team has not tweeted about the incident since the settlement, however.

    Herzberg's death is the first to be caused by a self-driving car in the US. She was struck around 10:00 p.m. local time while crossing a four-lane road with her bicycle, without a crosswalk present. Dashcam video from the incident shows the self-driving car making its way down a dark, winding street, when suddenly Herzberg's figure is illuminated by headlights. The human backup driver appears to have his eyes mostly off the road during the crash in separate interior footage. 

    While fatalities are still uncommon with self-driving cars, so is the technology itself. It is widely expected to overtake manually operated cars in terms of popularity, and with significantly higher levels of safety, but it isn't quite there yet. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES2018), the world's largest technology show, autonomous vehicles took center-stage during the automotive-focused parts of the event. According to Forbes, cars that "no longer need a human to steer or push the pedal to the metal" are fast approaching, and as such CES2018 revolved around the "conversion" of the automobile industry and the larger effect of self-driving tech on society. 

    Some fear incidents such as that in Tempe might cause enough concern to inhibit further development of the vehicle software, but even advocates agree that it needs more development.

    Toyota and Nvidia, which makes chips for self-driving cars, have suspended testing on public roads in addition to Uber, according to Reuters. 

    Sandor Veres, Professor of Autonomous Control Systems at University of Sheffield, spoke to Sputnik about these issues after the fatal crash. "The technical level of the solutions in autonomous cars is certainly not satisfactory at the moment, so this covers various areas. The sensory technology has signals developed in time and interpreting the situation — what is that?— and the safety of actual recognition, it looks — in general — it was not satisfactory, which has resulted in a few accidents. I really hope there will be a strengthening of reforms and stricter regulations on this," Veres said.


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    autonomous car, uber driver, self-driving car, Uber, United States
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