Investigators recreate fatal crash involving self-driving Uber auto

Volvo vehicle purchased by Uber moves through an intersection in Scottsdale

Behind the wheel was a human chaperone who was supposed to be backstopping Uber's developing technology.

The video, taken from inside the Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle that Uber has used for testing, shows the vehicle driving along a dark road when an image of a woman walking a bicycle across the road suddenly appears in the headlights.

"Waymo ... said that in tests on roads in California previous year, its cars went an average of almost 5,600 miles before the driver had to take control from the computer to steer out of trouble", according to the paper.

The cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles like big rigs. Uber suspended its self-driving testing in North America after the incident and federal safety regulators are conducting their own probe. On the video, you can see that Herzberg appears in frame only moments before she was struck.

In Arizona alone, more than 600 autonomous vehicles are being tested on public roads.

It's not certain why the Uber never detected Herzberg, or why it was exceeding the posted speed limit in the first place. "We, as a company, are not prepared to do that", the spokeswoman said.

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Self-driving Ubers with backup drivers have carried passengers on 50,000 rides in Arizona and in Pittsburgh, the company said. A smaller group "stressed" the cars by putting them in challenging situations where, without human intervention, they would have crashed.

"Although this video isn't the full picture, it strongly suggests a failure by Uber's automated driving system and a lack of due care by Uber's driver (and by the victim)", said Smith, a professor of law at the University of SC.

Alphabet Inc's Waymo LLC has yet to comment on its plans since the Uber collision, but the tech giant's Pacifica minivans remain on the road in Arizona, said Kevin Hartke, a Chandler, Arizona, city councilor. The safety driver claimed to not see the woman coming and the sensor system acted as though it did not see her either.

But that training can butt up against human nature and personal responsibility.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who also has embraced limited regulations for autonomous vehicles, said the crash wasn't causing him to rethink his state's laws. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrians struck by vehicles going 30 miles per hour are killed about 40 percent of the time.

Some tech firms and carmakers are pushing for cars with no steering wheels to avoid this middle ground where people are expected to shortstop technology.

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The vehicle that hit Herzberg "was being supervised". The interior footage shows the vehicle operator was looking down during that crucial window.

For comparison, here's a screenshot from the Uber dash video I posted Wednesday.

"Then there's Ryan", the video continued. Now the solo operator takes on all duties during testing.

When Khosrowshahi took over as Uber's chief executive, he had considered shutting down the self-driving auto operations, according to two other people familiar with Khosrowshahi's thinking. The Phoenix area was added a year ago, and it quickly became the company's main testing ground, with 400 employees and more than 150 autonomous cars driving local roads because of "favorable regulatory environment, favorable weather conditions", according to a company document.

She drew a parallel to railroad grade crossings, where the default response is for the crossing arms to descend if certain equipment is not working.

The footage appears to back up Ms Vasquez's claims that she was alert during the ride and nothing she could have done would have prevented the fatal collision. "And there needs to be a safe mode".

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