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Autonomous Vehicle Technology Needs Updating for Pedestrian Safety

October 17, 2018

October 5, 2018 ( An online article from discusses current autonomous vehicle technology and how far it needs to go to protect pedestrians from serious crashes.*

No autonomous vehicle in the works today has reached Level 5 autonomy. Level 5 means no human intervention is required whatsoever. The vehicles currently being tested have real limitations in the way of sensors and cameras to protect pedestrians. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates pedestrian crashes are higher at night, with nighttime accidents accounting for 75 percent of all pedestrian deaths. 

Notably, the only pedestrian death linked to autonomous vehicles to date occurred at night. Elaine Herzberg was walking her bicycle across a road in Tempe, Arizona, one evening in March 2018, when a self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed her. Investigation revealed the Uber vehicle sensed Herzberg but had difficulty determining that she was a person. The vehicle also did not attempt to brake to avoid Herzberg. 

The situation that led to Herzberg’s death plagues self-driving technology developers. Using cameras, radar, and LiDAR, vehicles are hindered in their detection and reaction abilities. To avoid incidents where self-driving vehicles fail to detect people in the road or fail to classify them as people, vehicle manufactures can consider installing sensors that use far-infrared technology. This technology can not only detect objects all around the vehicle, but also can accurately determine the classification of all objects. 

FIR cameras can create a “visual painting” of the road at close and distant ranges, which will allow vehicles to avoid pedestrians accidents and keep pedestrians safer. 

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