Uber Resuming Self-Driving Vehicle Program After Fatal Pedestrian Crash in Arizona
PITTSBURGH, PA. – November 2, 2018 (wsbradio.com) According to an online news story from wsbradio.com, Uber is resuming its self-driving vehicle testing program, after a months-long suspension in the wake of a fatal pedestrian crash in Arizona.*
In March 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg while she was walking her bicycle across a Tempe, Arizona, road. Footage obtained from the Uber vehicle shows the human safety driver inside, 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, was looking down at the time and did not see Herzberg until it was too late.
Following Herzberg’s death, Uber halted its self-driving vehicle testing. But recently, the company placed its first set of self-driving vehicles back on the road, effectively relaunching its autonomous vehicle testing program in Pittsburgh. A spokesperson for Uber said the company has released several cars in Pittsburgh, all of which have been running in manual mode with two human safety drivers, now called “mission specialists,” inside at all times.
An internal team reportedly reviewed Uber’s operations after the Arizona crash, and Uber installed 16 new features to improve safety in its autonomous vehicles. One such improvement is inclusion of emergency braking systems designed to prevent or mitigate accidents. In its investigation into the Arizona crash, the federal government found that the automatic braking system in the Uber vehicle involved in the collision had been disabled in order to reduce erratic braking for a more comfortable ride.
Uber has been releasing data on its test vehicles and hopes its up-front approach will restore public faith in the company.
“Our goal is to really work to regain that trust and to work to help move the entire industry forward,” said Noah Zych, head of Uber’s system safety for self-driving cars. “We think the right thing to do is to be open and transparent about the things that we are doing.”
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