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Autonomous

Uber Reportedly Settles With Family of Fatal Crash Victim

by Scott Ferguson
The family of the pedestrian killed earlier this month after she was struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle has settled with the company for an undisclosed amount, according to a report from NPR.

An attorney for the family, Christina Perez Hesano, told an NPR affiliate in Tempe, Ariz., on March 28 that Uber and the family have reached a settlement, but declined to give specifics or further comment.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Uber declined to comment on agreement when reached by The Connected Car.

On March 18, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking her bike from west to east across Mill Avenue in Tempe at about 10 p.m. local time when a self-driving Uber Volvo, traveling north at about 38mph, ran into her. She later died at a local hospital.

A video of the crash was released by police and raised more questions that it answered. For example, it appears that the backup driver was looking down, possibly at a smartphone, in the seconds leading up the fatal crash.

In addition, experts are still trying to determine what happened: Did the vehicle's sensor system not work? Or did the computer analyzing the data that was coming in from the road fail to recognize the pedestrian in the roadway? "The car did nothing, even up to the last second. That's bizarre," Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey previously told The Connected Car.

The results of the crash have cast a shadow over the entire autonomous and self-driving car industry, with Uber, Toyota and Nvidia suspending or stopping their tests within real-world situations.

Lawmakers, both local and in Washington, DC, have also started to call for reviews of autonomous vehicles and how these tests are being conducted.

In addition to the news of the settlement, a top Uber executive announced that he would leave the company.

The New York Times reports that Lior Ron, who helped co-found Otto, which Uber later bought, and who oversaw the Uber Freight division, is leaving. A spokesman for the company declined to elaborate on the reasons why Ron was leaving.

— Scott Ferguson, is the managing editor for the Connected Car, as well as the editor of Security Now. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

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