A year ago, the media was buzzing over the potential future which included self-driving or autonomous vehicles. There were early adopters such as Tesla and ridesharing Uber which were the first to embrace these new technologies. In spite of the promise, a series of events involving driver deaths made it clear that safe autonomous vehicles may be a future that is a little bit more distant.
The real wake-up call came on the evening of March 19, 2018, when Elaine Herzberg, 49, a pedestrian, was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle. Herzberg was attempting to cross the street with her bicycle. Herzberg’s death was the first case of its kind. According to an article which appeared in the Washington Post on February 2nd, Herzberg’s family has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe.
The lawsuit alleges that the city of Tempe installed a brick walkway across the median where pedestrians were discouraged from crossing Mill Avenue. The vehicle, a 2017 self-driving Volvo XC90, being driven by Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was in autonomous mode when it hit Herzberg. A spokeswoman for the city of Tempe, Nikki Ripley, would not comment on the pending litigation, however, they are aware of the case.
The crash resulted in Uber temporarily suspending all of its self-driving operations while the cause of the crash was being investigated. Eight months after Herzberg’s death. Forbes magazine reported that Uber had resumed autonomous vehicle testing.