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Auto Braking on Self-Driving Uber Car Shut Off Before Fatal Crash to Impress CEO

December 02, 2018

UNITED STATES – A report from reveals that the automatic emergency braking system on the self-driving Uber vehicle that crashed into and killed a pedestrian in March had been shut off in part to impress the company’s CEO.*

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. 

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 March collision had been disabled. Original reports indicated this was to avoid erratic braking and ensure a smoother ride, and new information expands on that motivation. 

Internal documents from Uber, coupled with employee interviews, suggest braking systems on Uber’s self-driving cars were disabled at least in part in an effort to impress CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was scheduled to receive a ride in one of the company’s self-driving vehicles in April. Uber has not officially commented on this new information. 

In another piece of odd news, reporters learned while speaking with employees that Uber uses the term “squishy thing” to refer to humans and animals that might be struck by a self-driving vehicle, as opposed to other types of objects.  

Accident News is an archive of select Georgia accidents, designed to alert and educate drivers, to help them avoid the most common causes of motor vehicle crashes.  If you or a family member are injured in an accident, call Montlick & Associates 24/7 for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) or use our live chat at  For more information about Montlick & Associates’ award-winning public service programs click here.  

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* This blog is intended to provide the public with news concerning serious automobile accidents and related stories. Although we are receiving this information from news organizations, initial reports may be different from conclusions reached by law enforcement personnel and other organizations, upon further investigation. Therefore, the accuracy of the content is not guaranteed. The information published here is based on information that has already been reported by a news organization, or other sources, and we cannot and do not assume responsibility for its accuracy. The source that we utilized at the time is provided above. If this posting pertains to you or your family and you do not wish for it to be on our website, please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to remove it, but when doing so, please include a link to the the article that you wish to be taken down.

Category: Accident News

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