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Uber reaches settlement with family of woman killed by self-driving car

by Kiara Alfonseca, Reuters and Associated Press / / Source: Reuters

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The family of the woman killed by an Uber Technologies self-driving vehicle in Arizona has reached a settlement with the ride services company, quickly ending a potential legal battle over the first pedestrian fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle.

The law firm of Bellah Perez in Glendale, Arizona, said the deal had been reached Wednesday night between Uber and the daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg, 49, who died after being hit by an Uber self-driving SUV in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe earlier this month.

Cristina Perez Hesano, an attorney for the relatives of Herzberg, responded Thursday to inquiries by The Associated Press by saying only that the matter "has been resolved."

Uber representatives Sarah Abboud and Matthew Wing separately responded to queries about a possible settlement by saying the company was declining to comment. The company previously expressed sympathy for Herzberg's family.

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A dash-cam video released by police last week shows Uber employee Rafaela Vasquez, 44, behind the wheel of the gray 2017 Volvo XC90 SUV during the March 18 collision.

Herzberg, wearing dark clothing, was walking a bicycle across a road at night when she was hit by Vasquez's vehicle, which was going 40 miles per hour in autonomous mode at the time, officials have said.

Uber suspended all testing of autonomous vehicles hours after the crash, but federal and local police jurisdictions have yet to close their investigations into the incident.

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is also being criticized for his office's close relationship with the ridesharing company. The first-term Republican governor's record of aiding Uber's growth in the state has come under scrutiny thanks to a collection of emails first revealed by The Guardian newspaper.

The governor's staff has pushed back, however, saying Ducey's embrace of Uber and autonomous vehicles was one of his most public initiatives and that there was no secret testing.

Phoenix was one of four locations testing out Uber's approximately 200 self-driving vehicles.

Immediately after the crash, Uber voluntarily suspended its autonomous vehicle testing in Arizona, as well as in San Francisco, California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Toronto, Canada. The company on Tuesday decided not to reapply for the California permit "with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate in the state in the immediate future."

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