Automated Uber’s First Kill

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An automated Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ on Sunday. It apparently did not “see” the woman in the crosswalk – and the “driver” wasn’t even looking (apparently) having deferred responsibility for that to the automated car.


Uber quickly announced that it has temporarily suspended the used of automated cars nationally. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet that the company was “cooperating” with police in its investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board also said in a tweet that it is also investigating the accident.

The ride-hailing company began testing its automated vehicles in Arizona in February 2017.  Concerns about safety were dismissed by government regulatory authorities.


It’s probable they will be again, despite the corpse in the road.

After all, you can’t make an omelette  without cracking eggs.

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  1. The media will never never ever even remotely impute even a hair of blame to a pedestrian or bicyclist who is hit by a car. If they can find any defect with the car-driver (or now, even the car itself!) they will run with that, even if that defect did not cause nor contribute to the accident. Meanwhile, never a word as to circumstances of the accident or the condition of the ped.cyclist prior to the accident. They make every car-vs.-other accident appear to be the fault of the car. ALWAYS!

    Case in point: Bicyclist gets hit and killed on a lonely street at 3 AM. No charges filed against the driver. Headline reads: Car Kills Cyclist”. Doc a little digging though and what do you find? First, who is out riding a bike at 3AM? 2nd- the guy was 48 years old. The bike was not a cyclist enthusiast cycle such as the type used by wannabe Lance Armstrongs- it was a child’s BMX Walmart special. Likely scenario: Middle-aged drunk who lost his driver’s lic riding home from the bar got in the way of the car.

    Or, another one from where I used to live: “Car Hits, Kills Senior”. The story followed with the typical omissions. At that time though, the website of the paper running the story still allowed comments, so some users filled in the details: The woman (around 60 years old) was some loon who used to wander around the town, half out of her mind. I’d seen her myself on a few occasions (At least I imagine it was the same one- as I doubt there were two) just walking obliviously across the street. She crossed a few feet from an intersection, against the light. Walked through a row of stopped cars, and out into moving traffic in the opposite direction- BAM! Just appeared out of the blue from the line of stopped cars.

    But most of the comments on such stories always read: “People need to slow down!” “We need more enforcement!”…. And this is just what the pro-big-government media wants…and what is becoming reality, with the blessing of all the peons. Lower speed limits; more pigs handing out more tickets….more revenue and control for the state- and of course it has ZERO to do with the actual safety of the average person- it’s just the media using drunks and crazies to vilify drivers. (And perish the thought that a driver has a hint of alcohol on his breath!)

    • One exception there Nunz. Motorcycle vs. car is always painted as “speeding motorcycle” even when it just pulled off from a green light and got plastered by a car running the red.

      • Very true, G. Motorsickle vs. car, if the motorsicklist wasn’t doing something stupid, either the car driver was, or just didn’t “see” the motorsickle/thought it was further away/etc. (That’s why I’m not a fan of riding street bikes…no matter good you are, all it takes is one jerk-off pulling out in front of you, and it’s all over/you’re never the same again.)

    • Legally it is acceptable for motorists to murder bicyclists provided that the motorist:
      1) is legally sober.
      2) does not leave the scene.
      3) says the magic words.

      That’s all. Even motorists who have intentionally hit bicyclists have gotten off that way. Only when they fail to do all three are motorists screwed. At least that’s how it has been traditionally.

      The stories you mention sound like they came out of the new urbanist organizations. There are writers who pop up in various places that follow that line of thinking and also write for sites like ‘streetsblog’. Mainstream media repeats the magic words in most cases and that becomes the cause even if the bicyclist did no such thing.

      • That’s the irony, too, Brent.

        I’m a cyclist myself. I’m actually pretty much giving it up though, as it’s getting too wild out there with all these cars with touchscreens, and people constantly on phones and all…and narrow roads here with no shoulders.

        I actually have somewhat of a prejudice towards most cyclists though. Not even counting the drunks and douchebags, many (especially in the cities) are emtitled assholes who think that they deserve some special privilege on the roads, and that they can do what they want without consequence, but that motorists are always responsible for everything.

        It’s part of the group mentality- espeically in these liberal douchie places, like NYC and SF. Cyclists think they can do anything they want and that motorists and pedestrians are always wrong; Pedestrians think they can do anything THEY want and that motorists and cyclists are always wrong.

        The poor motorist, right or wrong usually gets the blame. Cyclist vs. pedestrian gets tricky- as both groups are supported by their liberal counterparts.

        All in all, like many other things, justice is rarely served. The innocent often suffer- and the bad guys often get off scot-free. It reflects the values of the population at large.

        • Some motorists view me as an entitled asshole because I follow the vehicle code to the letter. Lots of people never read it and think its my duty to risk my life and travel time so they don’t have to put any effort into their driving.

          • Yeah, I’ve seen those types- they believe that bicycles belong on the sidewalk…LOL.

            It’s the other kind of cyclists who cause the problems though…and give us all a bad name- like the ones who just blow through stop signs, or who don’t signal when they are in close proximity to another vehicle, or who are riding on the side of the road, and just pop out into the lane without even looking, to go around a parked car or obstruction, etc.

            I find that here in this very rural county where no one else rides, I get a lot of respect from drivers, just because I ride in a courteous manner, and am predictable, and signal, etc.- and probably mainly because the locals have not had experience with the entitled douchebag cyclists.

            When I first started riding here, I imagined that people would be yelling at me to “get on the side of the road” when I take the lane, as I usually do on these narrow roads, since there is not enough room in most places for cars to pass safely in my lane- but people seem to “get it”- I’ve yet to have one person hassle me or beep or anything.

            Granted, driver’s attitudes can vary wildly in different geographic areas. But after seeing the crap I’d always see the entitled. socialist, “Critical Mass” type cyclists do in NYC, I’ve always made it a point not to be THAT kind of cyclist. They are a perfect example of what not to do.

            • I’ve had some experiences which I related here in the past. One where I took the lane for maybe than ten seconds on a blind rise/hill on 2 lane road with sub 12′ lanes. Audi driver went nuts because he had to ease up on the throttle on this 35mph residential road for a few seconds until oncoming traffic cleared and I got to the crest. Anyway I got to go sit in traffic court once a month for what was it, four months until he plead out to reckless driving. At least I got to see how traffic court really worked.

              • Buy sub 12′ I mean like 10′ I don’t remember exactly. I did go back there with a tape measure in case it came up in court.

              • That’s always the scariest scenario for me- narrow-laned two-lane road, no shoulder or fog line or anything…just a ditch on the side….poking up the hill at 5MPH. I feel good when I check my mirror and see that nothing is coming behind me.

                I only once had an impatient guy pass me on such a hill, going blindly into the oncoming lane as we approached the crest of the hill- damn idiot!

                What I really worry about, is when I see a car in the distance behind me….and I know I’ll crest the hill before it gets too close….but if the driver wasn’t paying attention, he won’t be expecting me to be in the roadway as he comes flying over that crest…and BOOM!- there I am, as he’s doing 50MPH.

                It’s getting worse too. I’ve been noticing even when DRIVING on the narrow backroads, which are barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass in opposite directions, people will come flying down the middle of the road, and not even want to move over for a truck! Used to be, you’d meet another vehicle on such a road, you’d both slow down and move as far to the right as possible….but now people act like they want to go head-on with ya!

                • I was doing about 25mph in that incident. it was more of rise than a real hill that slowed me down from that approach. Anyhow that road has a crappy sidewalk on one side that’s labeled a bike path. Can’t go faster than a walking pace on it because of all the cross streets and blind driveways. And it’s on the NB side, so southbound it would be especially dangerous.

                  Anyway because of the sidewalk people would get irate because I was on the road. Sometimes quite violent using their vehicle as a weapon.

          • I put i so many miles a day in traffic that will get you killed “toot sweet” and would be much worse if most drivers weren’t professionals, I’d have been dead long ago if I follow the “letter of the law”. Sometimes you just have to put the “book” in the back of your mind and do what’s safest……come hell or high water, both of which I’ve had numerous dealings with.

            • In general following the rules of the road to the letter is safer for a bicyclist provided he knows all the details and uses them. It will anger some motorists but they do see the bicyclist and are then forced to deal with him as another road user. It gives the bicyclist the upper hand in any dispute. Even with cops IME.

              • The thing is, too, that by acting like “real traffic”/like a car, we are predictable, and thus drivers know how to react, and also are more comfortable with our presence/don’t see us as being as much of a impediment to traffic, even when they have to slow down for us- as opposed to say some kid or irresponsible cyclist, who’s just bobbing around like Muhammed Ali, and forcing the driver to just hang back, because he has to wonder what “the crazy guy on the bike is going to do next”.

                If we all at least reasonably follow the familiar rules/common practices/what’s expected, it’s like everyone knows what to do, and what to expect.

        • Same here in Australia, nunzio. Idiot bicycle riders followed by peds staring at their phone and just walking where , well wherever they are walking to.

          • To5, I think it’s getting to be the same, everywhere these days. Anywhere where ya have the socialist nanny-state snowflake mentality, pedestrians now feel that they are an entitled class, and can do whatever they want, and bear absolutely no responsibility for their actions….but rather that the vehicle- be it car or bicycle or train, has the obligation to provide for their safety and compensate for their actions, and bear all responsibility and liability in every encounter, no matter what.

            Such attitudes have been the norm in places like New York City for decades…but now, ya even see it in small towns.

            And yes…even trains! NYC was successfully sued a while back, for having a hole that some vandals cut into a chain-link fence alongside the commuter rail tracks, which allowed the plaintiff’s c.17-18 year old kid access to the tracks, where he was squished by a train (probably high or drunk- as I used to walk RR tracks at a much younger age…and always successfully managed to avoid contact with trains!)- I wouldn’t even doubt if their kid was the one who had cut the hole in the fence!

            But that’s the mindset….you, as a pedestrian bear no accountability, no matter what, for your actions…but somehow those who are operating vehicles perfectly appropriately in the environment created for them, and who have no control over your actions, are somehow responsible.

  2. OK,
    I have to agree with Nunzio on this. I hate Musk and his Tesla-Mania AND all the Govt. Control, coersion, and Unwanted involvement in our lives. However, looking at this situation, the video of the dash-cam, etc, I can only conclude that the Auto-car did no better or worse than I would, under the circumstances. Night, poor visibility of the woman who stepped out into traffic unexpectedly, really no different, and other than the Uber-car coincidence, rather unremarkable event that likely takes place every 10 minutes in this country. I find this to be just a case of media-frenzy for entirely circumstantial reasons. This is a clear example of “correlation does not equal causality”. Not that Uber, automated cars, and gender-fucked weirdos can all go in the landfill for all I care, I just think this is a rather mundane event, all things considered.

    • Exactly, G. If it hadn’t had been a self-driving car, the story would not have even made the news, except for maybe a small community paper within the city itself. The media couldn’t care less about the actual event; it’s only value is if there is some angle to it which can be used to polarize people- i.e. if it had been a human driver and he was “drunk”, or as in this case, a self-driving Uber {“Something must be done! We need more regulation and government oversight!!” <— Dingdingdingsingsing! That's ultimately what the media is all about- pimping for big government].

      Maybe someone will start a new safety-Nazi organization:
      Mothers Against Selfdriving Taxis Ubers Rentals Buses Airplanes Tricycles Etc. 😉

      That’s why I don’t listen to “the news” or anything else from the media. Even the “alternative media” has gotten pretty bad, and is using the same basic techniques to advance whatever agendas they favor.

  3. “After all, you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs.”

    That’s the response I get in left-leaning circles when I am critical of the engineering processes or obvious lack there of behind automated vehicle systems.

  4. Just got an update from one of the financial news providers. Goes like this “Video from the self driving Uber that struck and killed a pedestrian shows her moving in front of it suddenly, police say”…….

    Turns out its not an issue after all and was someone elses fault…… not to worry, go back to lives as normal everyone….. soon you will all be taxed and regulated out of your cars and can happily use one of these things…

    • “As autos grew common on city streets, jaywalkers were more often pedestrians oblivious to the danger of city motor traffic… ‘Jaywalker’ carried the sting of ridicule, and many objected to branding independent-minded pedestrians with the term.”

      There’s a YouTube video on the subject of jaywalking that implies a conspiracy to make automobiles dominant on the city streets. I don’t doubt the same thing will happen again, except this time the cities’ taxpayers will be forced into building overhead pedestrian bridges like what they have at some busy intersections in Las Vegas.

          • Jesus, everyone involved was already fucked up to begin with. I’m finding it hard to care either way about any of them involved. Do normal people ever do anything wrong anymore? Do normal people even exist anymore? Actually, I think it’s just media coverage that puts everything weird under a microscope, and screws with our perspective.
            Example: My business neighbors next door, lost their 22 year old daughter to a fatal single-car crash at 1 AM last Friday, the 16th. I only found out yesterday afternoon, and could find virtually NO information about the crash, location, etc. The longest article was 3 sentences long. It was shorter than a wedding announcement! Virtually nothing, which is fortunate for the family, I suppose, but it almost seems like nothing happened, and I have not even heard from her parents yet, let alone even seen them since Thursday. I’m really depressed right now. I need to go fix some cars before I just quit and go back to bed.

            • I don’t read the “paper”. I haven’t seen a tv in 10 years…..except at the doctor’s waiting room and I put in earphones and do something with my portable computer(smart phone). I listen to radio during the day since it’s the only distraction that won’t get me killed. I often laugh out loud to myself at some of the shit they say. This entire country is simply a giant cluster-fuck and I’m glad to be out in the boonies of the oil patch every day where one’s wits is the only thing that keeps you alive. Yep, I can conduct those H2S classes and avoid repeats by volunteering to be “away” on those days. Just get on with your life and tune the bullshit out my friend.

              • Thank goodness for the boonies! If I hadn’t had moved here 17 years ago, I probably would’ve offed myself by now. Couldn’t even imagine living in the city or ‘burbs now-a-days.

                I can’t even stand the radio. The way they talk- everything geared to the lowest common denominator; talking like they’re on speed. The stupid commercials. The horrible “music”….and the “news” and idiotic sound bytes….

                I’d much rather listen to this…makes much more sense:

    • Nas,
      I’m certainly not one to defend these things….but that IS usually the way it goes with car vs. pedestrian accidents. Even when being driven by humans, cars often can’t react fast enough to the random actions of a pedestrian who isn’t paying attention/is blotto/etc.

      A pedestrian vs. car accident where I used to live :

      A guy running from someone who wants to “get” him for whatever reason, late at night….running for his life, just goes running out across a multi-lane highway, right into the path of a ar and gets hit.

      Is it the driver’s fault? No.
      If it had been an automated car, would it have any more so been the car’s fault? No.
      Sadly, as it turned out, the guy who was driving had just over the “legal” BAC llimit… he was charged with DIU and vehicular manslaughter and all of that…. Of course, if he hadn’t been drinking, the ped would have been just as dead…but they just wouldn’t be able to blame/make money off of the driver.

      If it had been a self-driving car, the ped would have been just as dead, and it would have counted as a mark against self-driving cars…just because it involved a self-driving car.

      As much as I hate, abhor and detest these stupid self-driving cars, in all fairness, we just can’t willy-nilly pin the blame on them every time there is an accident. People get in accidents too. (Although it does kind of negate the reason for having these idiotic cars!)

      The example here with the car in AZ is really no different than when people cite the accident I mentioned above, against “drunk driving”. In BOTH cases, it wasn’t faulty driving which was the problem.

      The ironic thing in all of this though: They have these self-driving cars with all of this technology, AND a human overseer….and the cars still get in accidents, just like any other car…so what is the point of having them, other than to control us by depriving us of personal transportation?

      • Totally agree with you. My point however is more around how lenient the media tends to be with these things due to automated cars. For example, her in London, the roads have been completely ruined to make way for “cycle lanes” simply because very time one gets run over, its automatically the drivers fault and all horrible.

        Compare and contrast that however with this instance, and like the first notification I got is that it was the pedestrian who came in front of the car, which as you say, is probably often the case…. but the way its reported tends to create a completely different perception of it, and how the public tends to feel about these things…..

        • And I totally agree with you there, Nasir.

          Same thing here in the US in many places. New York City for example, traffic has been made worse and parking made even scarcer than it was, because now there are bike lanes everywhere. Surface street speed limits have been reduced to 25MPH…there are speed bumps everywhere…. It’s lunacy.

          And yes, it’s totally insane. Someone smokes a cigarette outdoors and the whackos come out of the woodwork as if a whisp of tobacco smoke is going to kill off all life forms within a 7-mile radius….but when something which they think is wonderful, overtly and directly kills someone…that’s not a problem…

          I just try and keep an honest and unbiased outlook- which is something ya rarely see anymore, as people on any side of an issue will rush to just use any negativity about anything they oppose as fodder….which in the long-run does more harm than good.

          I’d just hate to jump on the “See-they’re-killing-everyone” bandwagon, when this was likely just a run-of-the-mill unavoidable pedestrian accident- but no worries, I’m sure if these things become more common- especially in crowded urban places, they will wreak plenty of death and destruction of their own accord. (I’m betting that it will become a common scenario for them to blow red lights, and cause some real bad accidents- there have been a few cases already where some have blown through lights, sometimes causing accidents).

          It’s kinda like DUI…. I wouldn’t advocate that sonmeone drive when they’re blotto…but I’m sure not going to take the opposite tack and join up with the safety-Nazis either. Like most things in life, the truth is usually in the big gray area in the middle….but most people will pick A or Z or take a stance, and ignore the real facts. I just think that we should strive to not be like that.

  5. So will the “driver” be charged with vehicular manslaughter? Will Uber? Will the programmer? What about the LIDAR manufacturer? More importantly will the press keep on this story so the public will know the root cause?

    Everyone better lawyer up because it is gonna get ugly.

  6. God Damned Johnny-Cab! “Have a nice day…hahahaha….Boom!” Has everyone seen the “Instant Safety Bridge” that fell and killed 6 more people? Ok, so the first fatality was actually an 18 year-old female pedestrian that was struck by a car (probably texting and not watch where she was walking), and THAT incident sparked the “need” for a “safety bridge”, to prevent more deaths. Ok George Carlin, this is IRONY at it’s best, or worst, depends. Didn’t someone once say that “instant solutions” were only temporary, and rarely safe? So how does this not apply to “Instant Pedestrian Safety Solutions”? I’ll give you 14.2 million reasons why that didn’t apply, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    This is just one of the many articles, and some unbelievable, but true phone conversations between site engineers hours before the collapse.

    Un-Fucking-Believable! They can’t even publicly take responsibility! “IF we find that something was done incorrectly, or designed improperly” blah blah blah. Seriously? Could this even remotely qualify as an act of God???? “this shouldn’t have happened” No shit? Please specify the “this” you are referring to please? More like, “Nobody should have attempted something this fucking stupid in the first place, primarily since we already have established engineering and construction standards that, IF adhered to, prevent this shit from happening in the first place!” Or at least that’s what we “should” be hearing, not this “there may have possibly been a malfunction” bullshit.

  7. As much as I hate self-driving cars…in all fairness, usually car-pedestrian accidents are the pedestrian’s fault. The pedestrian just juts out without warning…or has their head buried in their assh…errr…smartphone, etc.

    Kinda like when someone runs in front of a car and gets hit…and then it turns out the driver has a BAC just over whatever the “legal limit” happened to be that day and the headlines read “Drunk Driver Kills Pedestrian”.

    Whether or not the human attendant was being alert…or whether or not the accident could have avoided by a normal human driver, we may never know, but I wonder how many other pedestrians were hit and or killed on the same day by normal cars, and we never heard about it?

    If anything, I’d bet that more car vs. car accidents would be caused if these damn things were more ubiquitous on the roads, by them stopping for things that they needn’t stop for….

    That being said though, the whole thing is just stupid. Self-driving cars. The world is falling apart around us. Many states can’t even maintain moderately smooth roads or structurally sound bridges….and yet they’re trying to erect a highly advanced technological system based on the instant transfer of data and the response of many electronic and electro-mechanical parts, which endanger lives and property if just miscalculation is made or one aspect of the system malfunctions or misinterprets!

    • Yep, you’re right. Technically “over the limit” is a beer or maybe two at most. I drink a couple beers when I eat. A group of us were trucking one day and stopped for a meal. I had a couple big beers and everybody else just sat there like I’d shit on their food. Of course, much later that day I notice a couple had stopped for some “on the sly” beer.

      The beer with my meal chilled me and made me a much safer driver in the shithole they call the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex where 4 wheeler drivers seemed to try to commit suicide with big rigs, cutting across when there’s not room, every stupid thing you can imagine. The best attitude at that point is to be chilly and go slow even though you feel….and are, being victimized. The cops are totally complicit in this bs too and it’s “always the truckers fault”….even when the trucker gets clipped on a leading corner…..or gets run into from behind. Go for the money is the public and cops mantra.

      • Pfffft, yeah- the way these prick cops are, they drool, just hoping that the guy they pull over because his light was blinking when he made that turn, will have a slight lisp, or maybe Listerine on his breath so they can give him the old huff-and-puff test…or maybe they’ll find remnants of a dried “illegal” plant- ya’d think they were getting a commission from the lawyers or something.

        Remember the days when they used to respect professional drivers and leave them alone or even cut them a break, unless they were doing something really stupid?

        All that goes away in a police state.

        Hey, it’s a good day here though! A local pig dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 47 while responding to a call! [Does happy dance]. No retirement benefits for you, piggie!


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