Uber self-drive auto in fatal road accident

Daniel Fowler
March 21, 2018

While the accident is under investigation, Uber has made a decision to stop testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, at least until the event has been fully examined and understood. There are many factors that bring significant risk to the use of autonomous cars, all of which are from external sources such as other human drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and even sudden extreme weather changes.

The company posted a loss of $4.46 billion previous year on sales of $7.36 billion, in part because of outlays for its driverless-car program, and other new technology, as well as the loads of cash it spends on promotions to incentivize drivers to remain on the road.

Autonomous vehicle testing in North America has been halted after a self-driving Uber collided with, and killed, a pedestrian in Arizona. The state of California recently approved the public testing of autonomous cars without safety drivers behind the wheel, with trials expected to begin as early as next month. Herzberg was transported to a local hospital where she later died from her injuries.

"The pedestrian was outside of the crosswalk".

There were no signs Vasquez was impaired after the collision, Sgt. Ronald Elcock, a Tempe police spokesman, said in a press conference. He told reporters at a news conference Monday the Uber vehicle was traveling around 40 miles per hour when it hit Helzberg immediately as she stepped on to the street.

"It's very clear it would have been hard to avoid this collision in any kind of mode based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway", Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Because we feel the incident may have an emotional effect on our test drivers, we have chose to temporarily pause our Chauffeur mode testing on public roads", spokesman Brian Lyons said in an emailed statement, referring to its hands-off testing mode.

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The Maricopa County Attorney's Office will ultimately determine whether any charges will be filed in the crash.

Tempe authorities and federal officials are still investigating the incident. He also said traffic fatalities will fall but that companies such as Uber will be held responsible when there are collisions.

The vehicle involved in the accident was a Volvo, a person familiar with the matter said. But they do have faults. The vehicle was in self-drive mode with a safety operator behind the wheel when it struck a woman walking with her bicycle on the pavement, several yards away from a crossing point. Capitol hill sources told Reuters that Monday's incident could hinder the passage of related legislation. The technology could eliminate about three-quarters of what is essentially the cost of a typical trip, according to testimony from a former Uber self-driving executive in the recent case brought by Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, which alleged Uber stole design secrets. "When there's no sheriff in town, people get killed". Toyota has no concerns about the safety of its own autonomous systems.

"We also have to consider the impact of blending driverless and driver-led cars together - the first ever recorded accident by a driverless auto was caused by another vehicle (and human error)".

"I won't rule out the potential to file charges against the backup driver in the Uber vehicle, but if the robot auto itself were found at fault - this is really new ground we're venturing into", she continued. The company envisions a network of autonomous cars that would be summoned through the Uber app that would supplement - and eventually replace - human-driven cars.

Of course, this means that Uber has to temporarily suspend the testing of the SDA units which are now happening in Arizona, Pittsburgh and Toronto. Companies such as GM's Cruise and Intel are also testing in the state.

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