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Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) Driver in Arizona Facing Murder Charge In First Death Associated With Fully Automated Car


Shares of Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) inches up in pre session on Wednesday as a negligent murder prosecution will be filed against an Arizona Uber driver who was involved in the first death associated with a fully automated car in June.

Rafaela Vasquez, 49, was slated to stand trial next month in the March 2018 incident that killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she walked her bicycle beyond the lines of a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona. During a brief hearing on Tuesday, Vasquez’s trial was delayed.

Vasquez, who has pleaded not guilty to the allegation, told police that Herzberg “came out of nowhere” and that she hadn’t seen her before the crash.

Authorities claim Vasquez was watching “The Voice” on his phone while looking down in the seconds before Uber’s Volvo XC-90 SUV crashed with Herzberg. However, Vasquez’s counsel stated that their client was investigating a messaging activity used by Uber personnel on a business smartphone that was resting on her right knee. They said that “The Voice” was playing on Vasquez’s personal smartphone, which was located in the passenger seat.

Prosecutors declined to pursue Uber in Herzberg’s death after the National Transportation Safety Board determined that Vasquez’s failure to monitor the road was the primary cause of the incident.

The Arizona collision was not the first involving an Uber self-driving test car. An Uber SUV rolled onto its side in Tempe in March 2017. There were no significant injuries recorded, and the other motorist was ticketed for a traffic infraction. The trial for Herzberg will take place in Phoenix.

Herzberg’s death was the first using an autonomous test vehicle, but it was not the first in a vehicle with self-driving capabilities. In 2016, a Tesla Model S driver was killed after his car collided with a tractor-trailer while on autopilot in Florida.

Uber Eats Expansion

Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) and Cartken, an AI-powered robotics firm, announced an expansion of their cooperation to include food delivery through automated robots in Fairfax, Virginia, following a successful trial of autonomous deliveries in Miami, Florida. Customers using Uber Eats in Mosaic District will be able to have their orders delivered by Cartken’s self-driving robot.

Starting today, Uber and Cartken will begin working with select shops at Mosaic center, an EDENS-owned and operated shopping and eating center. The service will be launched with retailers such as Our Mom Eugenia, Pupatella, and RASA.

“Our team at Cartken is excited to further partner with Uber Eats and expand our reach to serve the Fairfax community,” Anjali Jindal Naik, Cartken’s Co-Founder and COO, said. “Cartken is at an inflection point, where we are rapidly bringing our AI, computer vision, and lidar-less autonomous robots to more places, like Mosaic District, in partnership with Uber Eats.”

Uber’s new cooperation with Cartken is another step forward in both firms’ efforts to employ autonomous technology to unleash greater innovation for Fairfax residents and retail partners.

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