Arizona Governor Indefinitely Suspends Uber’s Testing Of Self-Driving Cars

Gov. Doug Ducey said he was prompted to act after seeing the "disturbing" videos of the fatal crash involving an autonomous Uber vehicle.

A fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle has prompted Arizona’s governor to order the ride-sharing company to cease testing of its autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roadways. 

In a letter addressed to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said he was moved to act after seeing videos of last week’s deadly crash, which he described as “disturbing and alarming.” 

The footage, which was made public by Tempe, Arizona, police last week, showed the outside and the interior of the Uber vehicle in the moments immediately before the car collided with 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She later died from her injuries.

Autonomous vehicle experts who watched the footage suggested that the accident was caused by flaws in Uber’s technology as well as inattention by the car’s human backup driver, who was behind the wheel but not controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision.

In the letter, Ducey said the footage raised “many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona.”

“I have directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to suspend Uber’s ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona’s public roadways,” Ducey added.

He did not specify when the suspension may be lifted.

Prior to the crash, Arizona had boasted about its lax regulations of self-driving vehicles. As recently as last week, transportation officials in the state said they saw no immediate need for stricter rules. However, the release of the crash footage has spurred increased scrutiny of the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Reacting to Ducey’s letter, an Uber spokesman told CNN that the company had “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,” the spokesman added. 

Investigations of the crash by the Tempe Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board are ongoing.