Self-Driving Uber Car Detected Pedestrian Six Seconds Before Fatal Accident
TEMPE, AZ. – (cedarvillenews.com) An online story from cedarvillenews.com reports that the self-driving Uber vehicle involved in a fatal pedestrian accident in March detected the pedestrian six seconds before impact.*
On March 18, a self-driving Uber vehicle was traveling the streets of Tempe, Arizona, with a human safety driver inside. At approximately 10 p.m., the car struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she was walking her bicycle across the road. Footage from the dash camera inside the Uber vehicle showed the safety driver looking down and not at the road prior to the collision.
Following the accident, Uber and the National Transportation Safety Board began investigations to determine what went wrong and why the vehicle did not stop or attempt to avoid Herzberg. Reports indicate that the vehicle sensed Herzberg six seconds before the collision, but its emergency braking system had been disabled in order to avoid unnecessary and erratic braking.
Many self-driving cars have been prone to jerky driving and sudden brake-pumping, even when no objects were actually in their paths, which can be dangerous and interferes with the smoothness of the ride. The braking system on this Uber vehicle, therefore, has been disabled.
The sensors on the vehicle picked up an object six seconds prior to the collision and went through a series of decisions about what the object was. It decided the object was a bicycle 1.3 seconds prior to the collision and decided that emergency braking was necessary. However, instead of braking, the vehicle ran into Herzberg at approximately 40 mph.
Uber suspended its self-driving program after the crash but has since restarted the program in Pittsburgh. The company says it has made numerous safety improvements since March, including ensuring all emergency braking systems are enabled.
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