NTSB blames human error in fatal Uber collision with pedestrian

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Specifically, the NTSB said the immediate cause of the accident was the failure of the Uber safety driver to adequately monitor the road. In a video later released by police, the safety driver can clearly be seen interacting with a personal mobile phone in the moments leading up to the crash and was obviously distracted by it.

Had the vehicle operator been more attentive, the NTSB said, she would likely have had enough time to detect the pedestrian and react according to avoid a collision or mitigate the impact.

The NTSB also noted that while Uber managers had the ability to retroactively monitor the behavior of vehicle operators, they rarely did so. Furthermore, Uber made the decision at some point to remove a second safety operator from the vehicle during automated driving tests.

Earlier reports suggested the crash may have been the result of improper sensor tuning but that appears to only be partially true. According to the NTSB, Uber’s automated driving system detected the pedestrian 5.6 seconds before impact but never accurately identified the object as a person or predicted her path.

Also of paramount importance is the fact that the victim had a “high concentration of methamphetamine” in her system when she crossed the road at an area without a crosswalk. Marijuana residue was also found according to Forbes. The drug use could have altered her perception and judgement which, based on the fact that she didn’t turn her head to see the vehicle approaching until the very last second, seems plausible.

Looking ahead, the NTSB is urging federal regulators to create a review process for automated test vehicles before they’re allowed to operate on public roads.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
"Uber’s automated driving system detected the pedestrian 5.6 seconds before impact but never accurately identified the object as a person or predicted her path."

That's a VERY long time. I would certainly think if the operator was awake and paying attention they should have seen the pedestrian, but at the same time I would expect during test phase they would have had some kind of alarm noting detection without a solution; of course if the solution was to switch to "Deathrace 3000" they the equipment was functioning perfectly ..... no?
 

ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
Yes, it was the human's fault - the human(s) that programmed and built these self-wrecking cars. Ultimately, it is the human(s) that approved putting these on the streets at the public's safety risk. We are way past due for a class action lawsuit.
 
So...if it detected the passenger 5.6 seconds before impact, yet "never accurately identified the object as a person or predicted her path"...then a) what did it identify her as, & b) did it even have a guestimate as to what her path was expected to be? Because both of those items should have been in the log. If it couldn't even identify her as some sort of living being based on size, speed & behavior -- whether bicyclist, family pet, or something -- then regardless of the Uber driver's failure to monitor the driving this is still a "FAIL" for the onboard system. As for predicting the path, even if it didn't get the path right, did the automated system at least make some sort of attempt at corrective measures on its own -- like, say, activating the brakes (like a lot of newer non-autonomous cars have equipped nowadays) -- or was that not part of the program?
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
There's an excellent episode of Nova about the state of self-driving cars. https://www.pbs.org/video/look-whos-driving-65sadz/

Another human failure in this is that Uber specifically disabled the car's automatic emergency braking - which may have prevented the accident; however, Consumer Reports says that AEB, from any manufacturer, does not work well or at all during nighttime.

I also heard that the car's software failed to recognize that it was a pedestrian because she was not in a cross-walk. For me, that's a WTF moment. IMO, if a self-driving car sees anything in its path and that object is not moving fast enough for that object to be out of the way when the car is at the same point, the car should stop - period!
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Yes, it was the human's fault - the human(s) that programmed and built these self-wrecking cars. Ultimately, it is the human(s) that approved putting these on the streets at the public's safety risk. We are way past due for a class action lawsuit.
Only Tesla makes self-wrecking cars consistently. :laughing:
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Another reason why I will not be going autonomous. Since they don't accept responsibility for accidents. I will continue to remain in full control of my vehicle.
 

Skjorn

TS Guru
Terrible accident but that's all driver fault. Driver disregarded their own safety by not watching the road. Driver is lucky it wasn't something that could have severely injured themselves.

I've swerved a human trying to jump in front of my car at night. Only because I was keeping my eyes on the road.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Terrible accident but that's all driver fault. Driver disregarded their own safety by not watching the road. Driver is lucky it wasn't something that could have severely injured themselves.

I've swerved a human trying to jump in front of my car at night. Only because I was keeping my eyes on the road.
Absolutely. It seems that there are a number of people out there that are inappropriately complacent because of the technology and/or marketing such as Tesla selling its "driver assist" package as "Autopilot."
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Where can I go to apply for this, "Uber safety driver", job?

It sounds like the best gig ever, being barely awake behind the wheel, nodding off while. posting Gibberish to T***s***. while getting paid to run down pedestrians, (I think), the whole time.

As for the wanna be street crosser, she must have gotten some garbage crank. Real rocket fuel would have never allowed that lapse of attention. This is why marijuana shouldn't be legalized, it tends to wreck a perfectly good hyper manic high. Hell, even Adderal is better than pot.

Like they say in South Dakota, "meth, I'm on it"! :laughing:

 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
You can't fix stupid... that's why this tech will never succeed in my opinion. Humans by nature will not pay attention to something they don't feel they have to pay attention to, and manufacturers of this tech are not willing to put more sensors and AI into their systems to compensate for this. For example, thermal imaging and well programmed AI could have very easily identified the person crossing the road and slowed or stopped the vehicle prior to collision. Unfortunately due to this lack of true dedication to safety by vehicle passengers and manufacturers, I anticipate the US government will eventually outright ban the tech.
 
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Markoni35

TS Maniac
"According to the NTSB, Uber’s automated driving system detected the pedestrian 5.6 seconds before impact but never accurately identified the object as a person or predicted her path."

Did it identify her as a Terminator? An UFO? A car?

Let's hope that's not the same technology they'll put in police robots.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
You can't fix stupid... that's why this tech will never succeed in my opinion. Humans by nature will not pay attention to something they don't feel they have to pay attention to,
No, "you can't fix stupid,", and with today's state of Homo sapiens apathy, inbreeding, social permissiveness, and drug addiction, I'm honestly hoping for some governments to initiate mandatory sterilization programs, while secretly hoping for a mass extinction, which would resolve the problem completely

and at and manufacturers of this tech are not willing to put more sensors and AI into their systems to compensate for this. For example, thermal imaging and well programmed AI could have very easily identified the person crossing the road and slowed or stopped the vehicle prior to collision. Unfortunately due to this lack of true dedication to safety by vehicle passengers and manufacturers, I anticipate the US government will eventually outright ban the tech.
OK, assuming your concerns are ultimately addressed, I want you to write that statement on a card, put it in your wallet, and read it to yourself when you're handed the bill for your new, fully functional self driving car..

This autonomous vehicle crap is a manufacturer and government latent conspiracy to, "force people off the roads", plain and simple. People can't afford new cars these days, and it's only going to get worse.. The manufacturers are offering longer and longer financing periods, some as long as I believe, 84 months. (Which incidentally is the same amount of lifetime you get (7 years), after you sell your soul to the devil)). Nor can the roads tolerate too much more traffic. Obvious solution? Price people out of the market, and rely more on mass transit. And hey, we'll have less air pollution, about which, everybody here is continuously whimpering.

Meanwhile Uber is dumping tons of money into self driving cars, primarily so they don't have to pay drivers.

The drivers they have now OTOH, are picketing in the streets imagining themselves as "indispensable career employees".

You're right about one thing, "you can't fix stupid".
 
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CharmsD

TS Rookie
Where can I go to apply for this, "Uber safety driver", job?
There's an app for that. Was an app for that. Uber has become so responsive and socially aware, it's not like it was back in the old days of 2018. /snark

she must have gotten some garbage crank. Real rocket fuel would have never allowed that lapse of attention.
Haha. I don't know that much about it but I can't imagine she didn't see a slow moving car. A boyfriend gave me a gram and half over a weekend, when I was 19, was a bad trip in the worst way. I was tweaking and twitching like a leaf in a tornado, paranoid and nervous. I just wanted it to stop, but it didn't want to stop, kept coming at me..
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
@CharmsD I vaguely recall the Eagles writing a song about that... :eek: ;)

Oh wait, I found it......



"Life In The Fast Lane"

He was a hard-headed man,
He was brutally handsome,
And she was terminally pretty
She held him up,
And he held her for ransom
In the heart of the cold, cold city

He had nasty reputation as a cruel dude
They said he was ruthless, said he was crude
They had one thing in common, they were good in bed
She'd say, "Faster, faster. The lights are turnin' red."

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane

Are you with me so far?

Eager for action,
Hot for the game
The coming attraction,
The drop of a name

They knew all the right people,
They took all the right pills
They threw outrageous parties,
They paid heavenly bills

There were lines on the mirror,
Lines on her face
She pretended not to notice,
She was caught up in the race

Out every evening,
Until it was light
He was too tired to make it,
She was too tired to fight about it

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane,
Everything all the time
Life in the fast lane

Blowin' and burnin',
Blinded by thirst
They didn't see the stop sign,
Took a turn for the worst

She said, "Listen, baby. You can hear the engine ring.
We've been up and down this highway; haven't seen a goddamn thing."

He said, "Call the doctor. I think I'm gonna crash."
"The doctor say he's comin', but you gotta pay him cash."

They went rushin' down that freeway,
Messed around and got lost
They didn't care they were just dyin' to get off and it was...

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane,
Everything all the time
Life in the fast lane,

Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane
 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
No, "you can't fix stupid,", and with today's state of Homo sapiens apathy, inbreeding, social permissiveness, and drug addiction, I'm honestly hoping for some governments to initiate mandatory sterilization programs, while secretly hoping for a mass extinction, which would resolve the problem completely



OK, assuming your concerns are ultimately addressed, I want you to write that statement on a card, put it in your wallet, and read it to yourself when you're handed the bill for your new, fully functional self driving car..

This autonomous vehicle crap is a manufacturer and government latent conspiracy to, "force people off the roads", plain and simple. People can't afford new cars these days, and it's only going to get worse.. The manufacturers are offering longer and longer financing periods, some as long as I believe, 84 months. (Which incidentally is the same amount of lifetime you get (7 years), after you sell your soul to the devil)). Nor can the roads tolerate too much more traffic. Obvious solution? Price people out of the market, and rely more on mass transit. And hey, we'll have less air pollution, about which, everybody here is continuously whimpering.

Meanwhile Uber is dumping tons of money into self driving cars, primarily so they don't have to pay drivers.

The drivers they have now OTOH, are picketing in the streets imagining themselves as "indispensable career employees".

You're right about one thing, "you can't fix stupid".
Not really sure what you are all on about here, but I really don't think automated driving is going to stay. Users and developers are just not dedicated enough to safety in my opinion. If I eat my words in 15-20 years then so be it, I was wrong... we'll see. But I believe the tech will get banned.

Now driver assists are a whole other game, and those will probably stick around - but I imagine there will eventually be some regulation stating what it must be able to do. Though eventually, like all regulations - it will be ignored and not enforced. Just like headlamp aiming regulations in the U.S. are now.