Self-driving car companies are pausing their tests

Some, but not all, self-driving car companies are pausing their tests after an Uber car killed a pedestrian

Uber’s fatal self-driving crash causes some automakers and regulators to exercise caution while others push forward with their autonomous-car efforts.

In the wake of the first pedestrian fatality in a self-driving crash on Sunday evening, automakers, regulators and Uber are bracing for the fallout from the incident.

Many of those stakeholders have already responded:

Uber has grounded all self-driving cars. Toyota and self-driving startup nuTonomy have also halted testing. Others, including Ford, have no plans for pausing operations.
State officials and advocacy groups are calling on Congress to exercise caution as it attempts to pass a bill that would regulate autonomous vehicles. But sponsors of the Senate bill, called AV START, are asking Congress to act quickly to regulate the technology to address safety requirements.
Police in Tempe, Ariz., said preliminary results of the investigation find that Uber may not be at fault; they are expected to share more today.
The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to conduct a separate investigation into the accident.
Their response matters: The reactions to the fatality are likely to set a precedent for the industry, as many companies scramble to meet previously set deadlines to launch driverless vehicles. A lack of sufficient federal regulations or consumer trust could delay the proliferation of autonomous vehicles.

It could also have a resounding effect on Uber’s own self-driving efforts.

Late Sunday evening, an Uber vehicle in Tempe, Ariz., crashed into a 49-year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg, who later died from her injuries. The car was operating in autonomous mode with a vehicle operator in the front seat.

The Tempe police department is still investigating the incident, but the chief of police, Sylvia Moir, said yesterday that preliminary analysis found that it may not have been Uber’s fault. Tempe police are expected to give more information about the investigation later today.

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