USA safety body outlines events of accident involving Uber autonomous test auto

Ivan Schwartz
May 26, 2018

According to the report, Uber's self-driving systems deactivated automatic emergency braking and relied on human safety drivers to intervene to avoid a crash.

At the same time, Uber told investigators, "the [self-driving] system is not created to alert the operator" to situations where emergency braking might be required.

Investigators examine a self-driving Uber vehicle involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona.

As for the timeline right before and after impact, the car's lidar and radar sensors first noticed a something in the road about six seconds before striking the pedestrian. As the vehicle and pedestrian paths converged, the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path.

It appears that the "emergency braking maneuvers" mentioned in the release are part of the onboard safety systems that Volvo puts into every XC90 vehicle. "The vehicle operator is relied on to intervene and take action". The system is not created to alert the operator.

FBN's Gerri Willis on Uber safety concerns after one of the company's self-driving cars hit and killed a pedestrian.

Some self-driving auto companiesuse teams of two in their test vehicles.

When Uber's vehicles exit autonomous mode, which happens when the driver brakes, steers, or hits a special button, an audible alert sounds in the auto and a message will appear on the diagnostic readout on the dash.

Data retrieved after the crash "showed that all aspects of the self-driving system were operating normally at the time of the crash", investigators said, and there were no error messages. The report also notes that she "was dressed in dark clothing and that the bicycle did not have any side reflectors", and that she crossed in a dark section of roadway. We've also brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.

The report comes a day after Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona, eliminating the jobs of about 300 people who served as backup drivers and performed other jobs connected to the vehicles.

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The NTSB also said that Vasquez showed no signs of impairment at the time of the incident, but that Herzberg had methamphetamine and marijuana in her system.

In the Tempe, Arizona, crash, the driver began steering less than a second before impact but didn't brake until less than a second after impact, according to the NTSB, which has yet to determine fault. Authorites are investigating the cause of the crash.

The report goes on to say that the self-driving system actually saw Herzberg six seconds before the impact occurred.

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.

Tempe police turned their investigation over to prosecutors on Wednesday.

The NTSB did not say when it would release its final report on the accident. Below is a video capturing the moments before the fatal collision.

"This is a human failing, specifically it is a human failing of the engineers who have made certain choices", Calo said about the Uber collision.

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

The problem was that Uber's software became confused, according to the NTSB.

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