Uber self-drive death: Car 'saw pedestrian but didn't brake'

Uber Self Driving Car Failed To Recognize Pedestrian Brake Says US Agency

But none of them were set up to alert the SUV's driver. The Volvo SUV involved in the Tempe crash had it as a standard feature, though Uber had, as we saw above, disabled it. That irked Pittsburgh's mayor who said the company needed to make serious changes to its autonomous program before it could get back on the road. "Instead of fixing the spoofing, they fixed the spoofing by turning it off". Although the driver managed to turn the steering wheel less than a second before the impact at 39 miles per hour, in an attempt to swerve out of the way, it was too late.

"Over the course of the last two months, we've worked closely with the NTSB", Uber said in an emailed statement to HuffPost Thursday.

The company did not directly comment on the NTSB findings but noted it recently named a former NTSB chairman, Christopher Hart, to advise on Uber's safety culture. He has revamped the company structure and cut expenses as Uber prepares for an initial public offering next year.

In a desperate race to catch up to Waymo, Google's self-driving vehicle division on the cusp of commercializing self-driving taxis, Uber has found no shortage of controversy, including clashes with regulators in California, a not-at-fault collision that was nonetheless potentially avoidable, a videotaped incident of one of its cars blatantly failing to detect a red light, and most recently the deadly crash that lead to a nationwide halt to testing. The company said it's cooperating with the NTSB on the Arizona crash investigation and is working to make safety improvements and secure the proper permits to resume testing. Even though Uber's computers concluded the vehicle would hit the pedestrian 1.3 seconds before impact, or about 82 feet (25 meters) away, it also didn't alert the driver and she was looking away from the road at the time, according to NTSB.

The report said that the Uber safety driver, Rafaela Vasquez, only spotted the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, less than a second before the fatal impact and didn't brake until less than a second after the collision. Kornhauser said that was enough distance for the SUV to stop, or slow considerably to mitigate damage from the crash.

She was wearing dark clothing and did not look in the direction of the vehicle until just before impact. Also, the bicycle had no side reflectors. Yet, while Uber's system includes its own autobrake capabilities, this system too is disabled during autonomous operation "to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior".

The safety driver maintains that, although she had both a personal and a work phone in the auto with her, they were not being used at the time of the crash.

Uber's reliance on the human backup driver to prevent this from happening is highlighted by the fact that video released by the Tempe Police Department showed its human backup driver with their head down until the moment they realized the vehicle they were behind the wheel of was about to strike someone.

Uber has indicated that the Volvo crash mitigation systems are created to assist drivers, not to be part of a self-driving system.

The National Transportation Safety Board said its preliminary report stopped short of assigning blame for the March fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona, adding that any conclusion would come in its updated report.

That decision is one of many that have lead observers to question diligence and thoroughness of Uber's approach to safety.

Vasquez said she was monitoring diagnostic information from the self-driving vehicle, which Uber required of its drivers.

Tempe police Sgt. Ronald Elcock said that the pedestrian stepped into the street outside of the crosswalk and was immediately struck by the vehicle.

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