A fatal pedestrian crash involving a self-driving Uber SUV in a Phoenix suburb could have far-reaching consequences for the new technology as automakers and other companies race to be the first with cars that operate on their own.
Quickly after the crash, Uber suspended its programs in Arizona and the rest of the us and Canada including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. You can see the shock on her face when she looks up and notices Herzberg at the last second. "Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can", the firm said in a statement.
Police have released few details about the accident that occurred on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, while the SUV was driving in autonomous mode.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital following the crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians struck by vehicles going 30 miles per hour are killed about 40 percent of the time.
Experts believe a human driver could have avoided a fatal accident involving Uber's self-driving SUV.
An analyst who also spoke to Metro said the car's safety driver, Rafaela Vasquez, was overly reliant on the vehicle driving itself, but also added that the car's technology "should have been able to pick her up", in reference to Herzberg. They can see in the dark hundreds of feet down the road, thanks to onboard radar and Lidar. "If she had been moving erratically, it would have been hard for the systems to predict where this person was going", but the video shows no such movement. The ride-hailing company said it didn't think it needed to obtain permits, because they never had and didn't feel like it was necessary to conduct its tests. So says Marta Thoma Hall, president of the company that supplied the car's lidar sensors, Velodyne Lidar Inc., reports Bloomberg.
The auto was traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour when it hit Herzberg and it appears as if the cars onboard sensors failed to detect her entirely. Regardless, the footage will raise questions about how Uber vets safety drivers for an unproven technology that has the potential to put lives at risk. "She had been making clear progress across multiple lanes of traffic, which should have been in [Uber's] system purview to pick up".
"It's very clear it would have been hard to avoid this collision in any kind of mode", Sylvia Moir, the police chief in Tempe told the San Francisco Chronicle. The company said all drivers must undergo a third-party background screening "per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations".
According to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll in January, two-thirds of Americans are uncomfortable about the idea of riding in self-driving cars.
Fall-out from the accident could stall the development and testing of self-driving vehicles, which are created to perform far better than human drivers and sharply reduce the number of motor vehicle fatalities that occur each year.
Although the victim, since identified as Elaine Herzberg, was not on a crosswalk, there are still legitimate concerns that can be brought up by the family, one being the vehicle and its inability to detect the woman crossing the road.
Uber said in a statement to this news organization that it believed technology "has the power to make transportation safer than ever before", and that it recognized its responsibility to contribute to public safety.