Uber in fatal crash detected pedestrian but had emergency braking disabled

Uber in fatal crash detected pedestrian but had emergency braking disabled

Uber in fatal crash detected pedestrian but had emergency braking disabled

"This highlights a huge problem with an overtrust of the systems by the engineers and a lack of Uber's understanding for the need to include explicit vehicle-safety driver communication", she added.

The official National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report is shedding additional light on the situation, and confirms that the Volvo did indeed see the pedestrian. But here's the big takeaway from the report; auto braking was disabled on the Volvo.

The Volvo model involved in the incident had its own ability to automatically brake in emergency situations, but that feature was also turned off while the computer was driving.

Uber's self-driving system did notice Herzberg's presence, despite the dimly lit conditions that night. "The system is not created to alert the operator".

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The report said the self-driving system determined that emergency braking was needed 1.3 seconds before impact but that by then it was too late. The vehicle was traveling at 39mph at the time of the crash.

Under the zero-to-five level system of grading self-driving capability developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers, a vehicle that lacks this functionality would be classified as a two at best - far from the level three or four suggested by Uber's videos, let alone the level-five Holy Grail of true autonomy that no company has yet reached.

The hardware on Uber's self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a 49-year-old woman in Arizona this March worked just fine, a new report found - it's the software that failed. The unmanned vehicle that was driving at 39mph (63kph) ran over her, causing serious injuries.

The victim, Herzberg, tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine, according to the NTSB. It registered an unknown object, then a vehicle, then a bicycle, and tried to figure out the object's intended path. But since the computer system is still being tested it is programmed to not actually make emergency braking maneuvers to avoid erratic driving behavior in traffic. "In addition, the operator is responsible for monitoring diagnostic messages that appear on an interface in the center stack of the vehicle dash and tagging events of interest for subsequent review". Uber's testing regime relied on the human backup driver to intervene when necessary. But backup drivers are "not required to do anything with that information". Humans, even when their full attention is on the road, are not the best at catching these things; relying only on them in the most dire circumstances that require quick response times and precise maneuvering seems an incomprehensible and deeply irresponsible decision. Speed at impact was 39 miles per hour, and braking started less than a second after that point.

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

The report outlines the equipment and systems found on the vehicle, including lidar, cameras, navigation sensors and other components pertaining to self-driving. Vasquez told police she hadn't used either phone until calling 911 after the crash.

12 News will pursue the release of the Uber report.

Medina, who lives in Tempe, agreed that the crash site is well-lit, relatively speaking, and that Vasquez's familiarity with that stretch of road, where pedestrians often jaywalk, should have helped prevent an accident.

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The watchdog said it would continue gathering evidence to piece together an accurate account of the auto crash, with the hopes of issuing safety recommendations to prevent further crashes.

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