Self-driving Car: Uber Fatal Crash Linked To Safety Flaws

Self-driving Car: Uber Fatal Crash Links With Safety Flaws
Self-driving Car: Uber Fatal Crash Links With Safety Flaws. Image BBC

Following an Uber self-driving test vehicle that hit and killed a woman in 2018, US safety investigators revealed that it has software problems.

Recall that Elaine Herzberg, 49, was hit by the car as she was crossing a road in Tempe, Arizona.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered that the car failed to identify the deceased properly as a pedestrian.

The detailed findings raised a series of safety questions but could not determine the probable cause of the accident.

The safety board is expected to to reach and make the finding when it meets on 19 November.

The findings, released on Tuesday, may also be used to help shape recommendations for the developing autonomous driving industry. The sector has come under sharp scrutiny in the wake of the accident.

The fatal crash occurred in March 2018 and involved a Volvo XC90 that Uber had been using in test running its self-driving technology.

Not long before the crash, Ms Herzberg had been walking with a bicycle across a poorly lit stretch of a multi-lane road.

The NTSB said: ”Uber’s test vehicle failed to correctly identify the bicycle as an imminent collision until just before impact.

”By that time, it was too late for the vehicle to avoid the crash.”

The NTSB added that “the system design did not include consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.”

The report also said there were 37 crashes of Uber vehicles in self-driving mode between September 2016 and March 2018.

In a statement, Uber said: “We deeply value the thoroughness of the NTSB’s investigation into the crash and look forward to reviewing their recommendations”.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, prosecutors ruled that the company is not criminally liable for the death of Ms Herzberg.

But the car’s back-up driver could still face criminal charges.

Dash-cam footage released by police after the incident appeared to show the vehicle’s back-up driver, Rafaela Vasquez, taking her eyes off the road moments before the accident.

Further records from the streaming service Hulu suggested that Ms Vasquez had been streaming a television talent show on a phone at the time the incident occurred.

The company subsequently pulled the plug on its autonomous car operation in Arizona, although the company later resumed tests in Pennsylvania