Arizona, Site of Deadly Uber Crash, Pushed to Become Nation's Test Lab for Driverless Cars


Arizona, Site of Deadly Uber Crash, Pushed to Become Nation’s Test Lab for Driverless Cars – WSJ

Gov. Doug Ducey has made welcoming tech companies—especially the driverless car industry—a priority

The deadly Uber crash in Arizona, the first known fatality involving an autonomous vehicle in the U.S., is a setback for a state that has aggressively sought to become the nation’s test lab for driverless cars.

Arizona

Gov. Doug Ducey,

a Republican, has made welcoming technology companies to test their products in Arizona a hallmark of his administration. He has particularly embraced the driverless car industry.

Less than a month ago, Gov. Ducey issued an executive order allowing driverless cars on Arizona streets without a human, if the vehicles follow all traffic rules. It was an update of the 2015 order that first allowed driverless cars on the road.

The car that struck and killed 49-year-old pedestrian

Elaine Herzberg

in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday night was an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving car in autonomous mode, with a human safety operator at the wheel.

“Our prayers are with the victim, and our hearts go out to her family,” said

Patrick Ptak,

a spokesman for Gov. Ducey. “Our office is in communication with law enforcement. Public safety is our top priority.”

The accident occurred in a part of the greater Phoenix metro area that the governor and economic development groups have been promoting as a hub for the driverless car industry. Gov. Ducey’s recent order said more than 600 driverless vehicles are being tested on state roads, by such companies as Uber,

Alphabet
Inc.’s

Waymo,

General Motors

’ Cruise Automation and

Intel
.

 Waymo has been testing vehicles in the Phoenix area without humans behind the wheel, and it plans to begin commercial robot taxi services there this year.

N.D.

Have issued executive orders

Minn.

Ore.

Idaho

Wis.

Mass.

N.Y.

S.D.

Mich.

Wyo.

R.I.

Iowa

Pa.

Neb.

Nev.

Ohio

Conn.

Ind.

Ill.

Utah

W.Va.

Colo.

N.J.

Va.

Kan.

Mo.

Ky.

Calif.

Del.

N.C.

Tenn.

Md.

Ariz.

Okla.

N.M.

Ark.

S.C.

D.C.

Ga.

Ala.

Miss.

Texas

La.

Alaska

Fla.

Hawaii

Wash.

Have passed legislation

N.H.

Maine

Vt.

Mont.

N.D.

Minn.

Ore.

Idaho

Wis.

Mass.

N.Y.

S.D.

Mich.

Wyo.

Have issued executive orders

R.I.

Iowa

Pa.

Neb.

Nev.

Ohio

Conn.

Ind.

Ill.

Utah

W.Va.

Colo.

N.J.

Va.

Kan.

Mo.

Ky.

Calif.

Del.

N.C.

Tenn.

Md.

Ariz.

Okla.

N.M.

Ark.

S.C.

D.C.

Ga.

Ala.

Miss.

Texas

La.

Alaska

Fla.

Hawaii

Have passed legislation

Wash.

N.H.

Maine

Vt.

Mont.

N.D.

Minn.

Ore.

Have issued executive orders

Idaho

Wis.

Mass.

N.Y.

S.D.

Mich.

Wyo.

R.I.

Iowa

Pa.

Neb.

Nev.

Ohio

Conn.

Ind.

Ill.

Utah

W.Va.

Colo.

N.J.

Va.

Kan.

Mo.

Calif.

Ky.

Del.

N.C.

Tenn.

Md.

Ariz.

Okla.

N.M.

Ark.

S.C.

D.C.

Ga.

Ala.

Miss.

Texas

La.

Alaska

Fla.

Hawaii

Have passed legislation

Have issued executive orders

D.C.

The Arizona crash comes as regulations for driverless cars at the federal level and in many local jurisdictions are under review. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration has released voluntary federal guidance for automated driving systems to industry and technical assistance to states. A bill with policies aimed at driverless car technology has passed the U.S. House and a similar bill awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Twenty-one states have enacted legislation aimed at regulating autonomous vehicles, and seven states have had governors issue executive orders pertaining to the industry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

California is set to begin issuing permits for driverless testing and deployment permits for autonomous vehicles April 2. A spokeswoman for California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said, “We are aware of the Uber crash in Arizona and are in the process of getting more information.”

Critics have said states such as Arizona are moving to quickly and not ensuring public safety. Rosemary Shahan, founder of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said states such as Arizona are “abandoning their responsibility to ensure that the AVs are safe prior to allowing them to be deployed.”

Gov. Ducey has said the state is committed to safety in its push for technology testing. The governor created a committee in March 2016 to advise the state’s Transportation Department on policies related to self-driving cars, and his latest executive order established penalties for those testing or operating the fully autonomous vehicle. A human tester may be issued a traffic citation or another “applicable penalty” if the vehicle fails to comply with traffic or motor vehicle laws.

Kevin Biesty, deputy director of Arizona’s Department of Transportation, said the state treats driverless vehicles as it would any other vehicle tested on its roads, and human safety operators only need driver’s licenses to operate.

Mr. Biesty said the state would investigate if necessary, though it will be up to local prosecutors and the police to determine if any crime was committed. He said the state has no plans to suspend or change its driverless vehicle program. “Nobody has been able to point to something that would enhance the safe we believe our system offers,” he said.

Since taking office in 2015, Gov. Ducey has made a point of cutting regulations for businesses. Last year, the governor’s office said it cut more than 600 regulations for businesses, and it plans to do away with another 500 this year. In 2016, he signed a bill prohibiting local governments from banning short-term rental companies such as Airbnb.

The state also passed a law allowing Arizonans to order their own lab tests in his first year in office. The law had been sought by now-embattled blood-testing company Theranos, which had a major presence in Scottsdale. The federal government last week filed civil fraud charges against the company’s founder, who was stripped of voting control of Theranos under a settlement with federal regulators.  

Theranos reimbursed more than 76,000 Arizonans in full, according to the state attorneys general office. The company closed its clinical lab in Scottsdale.

Last December, the governor welcomed self-driving Uber cars in front of the Arizona state capitol in Phoenix, after the company moved the cars from California following a dust-up with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

“California may not want you, but we do,” he said at the time.

Write to Alejandro Lazo at alejandro.lazo@wsj.com

Appeared in the March 21, 2018, print edition as ‘Uber Crash Marks a Setback For Arizona as Testing Hub.’



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.