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Uber Autonomous Car in Fatal Crash Detectedoffer, NTSB Find



Photo : Tempe Police Department ( AP )

Federal investigators have determined an Uber self-driving car that killed 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona in March 2018, lacking programming to either recognize or respond to the presence of jaywalkers on the road, Bloomberg reported Tuesday .

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued 400 pages of documents on the fatal collision Tuesday, finding many "safety and design lapses" but failing to identify the cause of the accident, Bloomberg wrote . Specifically, NTSB investigators determined that Uber SUV's "system design did not include a pedestrian concern" – as well as Uber built in a [1seconddelay of 1 second ] to avoid false positives and disabled an auto braking system from Volvo that could have slowed the speed of the car. (As Wired reported Carnegie Mellon University electrical engineer Raj Rajkumar said the latest decision made sense because of the potential for conflicts between Uber's self-driving technique and Volvo systems.)

The autonomous car's systems made Herzberg discover about 5 , 6 seconds before the collision, but classified her as a variety of objects and failed to realize that an impact was imminent. Each time it did, the car had to calculate a new lane for the obstacle. This delay of a second of "suppression of action" happened at the last possible moment where the accident could have been avoided.

In addition, NTSB investigators found that the Uber Advanced Technologies Group team responsible for the Tempe test program failed to check out many security measures, lacking a security plan, dedicated security personnel, and operating procedures. According to Bloomberg, Uber cut to one instead of two security drivers five months before Herzberg's death. NTSB also found that there were at least two previous crashes where Uber self-driving vehicles may have failed to identify hazards in the roadway, and that 37 Uber self-driving crashes had previously occurred between September 2016 and March 2018.

Local prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges against Uber or the company's officials earlier this year, though they seemed interested in investigating whether they would appeal to their human operator, Rafaela Vasquez, the possible murder charge . Investigators determined Vasquez was unaware of the road at the time of the crash and may have instead streamed the reality show The Voice as well as human intervention prevented the death.

Uber spokeswoman Sarah Abboud told Reuters that the company had "adopted critical program improvements to further prioritize security. We greatly appreciate the thoroughness of the NTSB's investigation into the crash and look forward to reviewing their recommendations. "These changes include reintroducing the two-driver policy as well as adjusting security protocols and creating an anonymous security line, according to Wired.

NTSB investigators will meet in a few weeks (November 19) in DC to complete the report of the crash, including a determination of the cause.


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