While this isn't the first fatal incident involving a self-driving vehicle, it does appear to be the first resulting in the death of a pedestrian. "Our hearts go out to the victim's family," Uber tweeted today.
A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board told us that the agency is sending a team to Tempe to investigate the accident. The Tempe police department has confirmed the reports and has said, "Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation."
Update: According to Tempe police, the crash happened as the victim, Elaine Herzberg, 49, walked from a center median into a lane of traffic with a bicycle. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that police chief Sylvia Moir said based on videos taken from the car "it's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway." Still, she could not yet rule out charges against the backup driver, or confirm what might happen if the car itself were found to be at fault.