The family of the woman killed by an Uber self-driving vehicle in Arizona has reached a settlement with the ride services company, ending a potential legal battle over the first fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle.
The family’s attorney, Cristina Perez Hesano, said “the matter has been resolved” between Uber and daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg, 49, who died after being hit by an Uber self-driving SUV in Tempe in March.
Terms of the settlement were not given. The law firm representing them said Herzberg’s daughter and husband, whose names were not disclosed, will have no further comment on the matter as they consider it resolved.
Fall-out from the accident could stall the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, which are designed to eventually perform far better than human drivers and sharply reduce the number of motor vehicle fatalities.
Uber and microchip developer Nvidia Corp have put self-driving car testing programmes on hold following the fatality, which is believed to be the first death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving vehicle.
The fatality also presents an unprecedented liability challenge because self-driving vehicles, which are still in the development stage, involve a complex system of hardware and software often made by outside suppliers.
Herzberg was walking across a divided four-lane road with her bicycle when she was struck. A video taken from a dash-mounted camera inside the vehicle that was released by Tempe police showed the SUV travelling along a dark street when suddenly the headlights illuminated Herzberg in front of the SUV.
Other footage showed the human driver who was behind the wheel mostly looking down and not at the road in the seconds before the incident.
Meanwhile, Nvidia Corp has sought to distance itself from Uber saying it does not use Nvidia’s self-driving platform architecture.
The ride-hailing service uses Nvidia’s graphics processing units known as GPUs, its chief executive Jensen Huang said.
“Uber does not use Nvidia drive technology. Uber develops its own sensing and drive technology,” Huang said.
Nvidia’s platform is used by more than 370 companies developing self-driving technology, including automakers and robotaxi companies and makers of self-driving hardware, such as sensors. Nvidia’s shares have fallen by about 9.5 per cent since the company said recently that it was temporarily halting its self-driving tests on public roads out of respect for the victim.