Self-driving Uber likely killed woman because it ignored her

Self-driving technology failed to react before autonomous Uber SUV fatally ran down a woman in Arizona because ‘it did not recognize her as a HUMAN and had been programmed to ignore insignificant objects on the road’

  • Uber and the federal government are investigating March 18 crash
  • Autonomous SUV fatally hit woman as she was crossing a street in Tempe
  • Uber says its software was working properly but ignored Elaine Herzberg, 49
  • That’s because software was tuned not to react to objects on the road 

Uber’s self-driving technology software detected a woman as she was crossing the street with her bicycle in Arizona in March but failed to react immediately before she was fatally hit by an autonomous vehicle, according to the results of an internal investigation.

The cameras, Lidar, and radar were all working properly on the semi-autonomous Volvo SUV as it was driving at normal speed on a highway in Tempe on the night of March 18.

But the system did not react when it detected a woman walking across the highway since it was programmed to treat passing objects on the road such as plastic bags as ‘false positives’ that ought to be ignored, according to the results of Uber’s preliminary probe.

Uber’s self-driving technology software detected a woman as she was crossing the street with her bicycle in Arizona in March but failed to react immediately before she was fatally hit by an autonomous vehicle, according to the results of an internal investigation

The Volvo SUV was in self-driving mode with a human back-up operator behind the wheel when a woman walking a bicycle was hit. Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital. The back-up operator, Rafaela Vasquez, is seen above just moments before Herzberg was hit

The cameras, Lidar, and radar were all working properly on the semi-autonomous Volvo SUV as it was driving at normal speed on a highway in Tempe on the night of March 18

The initial results of the investigation were first reported by The Information.

The Volvo SUV was in self-driving mode with a human back-up operator behind the wheel when a woman walking a bicycle was hit.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital.

Police have said that Herzberg stepped out in front of the car suddenly and they do not believe the driver was to blame.

Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The testing has been going on for months as car makers and technology companies compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.

Uber is likely to have deliberately made its software less reactive to objects on the road in order to give the driver a smoother ride.

Uber is likely to have deliberately made its software less reactive to objects on the road in order to give the driver a smoother ride

People who have used self-driving technology with Uber competitors like Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise vehicles have reported that the rides have been ‘jerky’ because the vehicles will suddenly hit the brakes even though there’s no real threat on the roadway, according to The Information.

That is because the sensory equipment on those vehicles are reacting to objects that they perceive to be a threat, even though there is none.

Uber’s tests of its self-driving vehicles calibrated the software to be less reactive to ‘false positives’ which is likely to have led to the fatal accident in Tempe.

Uber and the federal government continue to investigate the crash.

In response to the story, Uber released a statement saying: ‘We’re actively cooperating with the [National Transportation Safety Board ] in their investigation.

‘Out of respect for that process and the trust we’ve built with NTSB, we can’t comment on the specifics of the incident.

‘In the meantime, we have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.

‘Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon.’ 

Source: Read Full Article