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An Uber backup driver who was behind the wheel of Volvo XC90 autonomous prototype in March 2018 when the vehicle struck and a killed pedestrian has been charged with negligent homicide, Reuters reports. Rafaela Vasquez was charged by prosecutors and released months ahead of a trial scheduled to start in February 2021, after pleading not guilty to the charge.
Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bicycle across a road in Tempe, Arizona, became the first person to be killed by an autonomous vehicle, an event that took place after over three dozen other crashes by Uber vehicles testing autonomous technology between September 2016 and March 2018. Most of those other incidents involved other vehicles hitting Uber prototypes, 25 of which involved vehicles rear-ending Uber prototypes, as the company pointed out at the time. While the charges against Vasquez were not an entirely unforeseen development in the case, the timing is unusual in that it has taken two and a half years for prosecutors to decide to charge the driver. In most cases, this would have happened much sooner and would have also likely been resolved sooner, both in regards to criminal charges and likely also the civil charges. This is not the only litigation tied …
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