Uber self-driving tests halted after pedestrian dies in Arizona

The Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode, with an operator behind the wheel, when it hit a woman walking in the street in the city of Tempe, Arizona. ( AFP)
Updated 19 March 2018
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Uber self-driving tests halted after pedestrian dies in Arizona

LONDON: Uber says it has suspended all of its self-driving testing following what is believed to be the first fatal pedestrian accident involving the vehicles.
The self-driving testing has been taking place in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
Automakers and tech companies are competing to be first with the technology.
Police in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Arizona say one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian on Sunday night.
Investigators say the vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel when the woman walking outside of a crosswalk was hit.
The woman died of her injuries at a hospital and her name was not made public.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account: “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board said they are sending teams to Tempe, to investigate the accident.
The NHTSA said in a statement it is “in contact with Uber, Volvo, federal, state and local authorities regarding the incident” and will take appropriate action.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family,” said an Uber spokesperson. “We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”


India’s ruling party seeks to energise workers after state losses

“We realize that rural distress and employment generation are the key issues and we are working on them,” said BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 24 sec ago
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India’s ruling party seeks to energise workers after state losses

  • The government announces so-called minimum support prices for most crops to set a benchmark

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP will try to canvass and galvanize its activists across India before a general election due next May, after losing power in three heartland rural states, senior leaders said after a meeting on Thursday.
Disgruntled voters blamed the slow pace of job creation and weak farm prices for the Hindu nationalist party’s defeat in the states, two of which it had ruled for three straight terms.
“We realize that rural distress and employment generation are the key issues and we are working on them,” said BJP spokesman Gopal Krishna Agarwal, who attended the meeting. “They’ll have to be tackled, and we will take suggestions from wherever needed.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) various wings — representing women, farmers, lower castes, Muslims and young members — will all hold deliberations after losses in the supposed stronghold states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
“These meetings are aimed at preparing for the 2019 election and spreading the party’s message in various sections of society,” Bhupender Yadav, a BJP national general secretary, said after the meeting, which he said had been scheduled before the state election results came out on Tuesday.
He also announced that a planned national convention would be held in New Delhi on Jan. 11 and 12.
Senior BJP minister Nitin Gadkari told the ET Now business channel on Thursday that the agriculture sector may have been neglected under their government.

JOBS AND FARM PRICES
Agarwal, a chartered accountant who is also a director in a state-run bank, said increasing lending for job-generating small businesses was a key focus, as was enhancing procurement of grain from farmers by government agencies at state-mandated prices so there are no distress sales.
The government announces so-called minimum support prices for most crops to set a benchmark, but state agencies mainly buy limited quantities of staples such as rice and wheat at those prices, restricting benefits of higher prices to only around 7 percent of India’s 263 million farmers, according to various studies.
Following the state election setbacks, Modi’s government is expected to announce loan waivers worth billions of dollars to woo farmers, government sources told Reuters this week.
Agarwal said the party’s loss in Madhya Pradesh, known for multiplying agriculture production under three BJP governments, has reinforced its realization that higher output helps consumers by bringing down prices, but can badly hurt farmers.
“The focus has so far been on consumers, like importing onions when prices shot up,” Agarwal said. “Now we need to look at the producers, not just the consumers.”
He also said there was a case for fiscal stimulus, given that inflation fell to a 17-month low in November. Food inflation sank to a negative 2.61 percent from a negative 0.86 percent in October, according to official data released on Wednesday.