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Police release video of fatal collision between self-driving Uber and Arizona woman

By midian182 · 72 replies
Mar 22, 2018
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  1. On March 18, one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles was involved in a crash that killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona. Now, police have released footage (bottom of page) from the Volvo SUV’s cameras showing what happened in the moments leading up to the collision.

    The video shows the vehicle failing to slow down before it hit 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she pushed her bicycle across the road. She later died in hospital, becoming the first person to be killed by an autonomous vehicle.

    The clip includes an interior view of the car, showing Uber safety driver Rafaela Vasquez. She keeps looking down at something for several seconds in the moments before the crash. You can see the shock on her face when she looks up and notices Herzberg at the last second.

    Chief of Police Sylvia Moir said, “It appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault” for the accident, as Herzberg was not crossing the street at the crosswalk when she was struck at 10 PM.

    However, there is still a chance that Uber could face criminal charges, depending on what the investigation uncovers. Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit said it is actively investigating the details of this incident, while Herzberg’s loved ones and autonomous vehicle experts argue that the sensors should have detected her and slowed the SUV down. Both the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are conducting their own investigations into the incident.

    Whether Herzberg’s family might launch a lawsuit against Uber is also unclear. “Ain’t no amount of money in the world going to bring her back,” said the victim’s stepdaughter, Tina Marie Herzberg White.

    The fatality has now raised more questions over the safety of self-driving vehicles, and will likely affect future industry regulations. Uber has suspended all testing of its self-driving vehicles until the investigation is closed.

    You can see the video of the incident, which stops before the moment of impact, below.

    Permalink to story.

  2. andrewdoyle88

    andrewdoyle88 TS Addict Posts: 135   +125

    She looks like most drivers do nowadays that don't drive self-driving cars.
  3. sepirocth

    sepirocth TS Rookie

    Uber is to blame in this incident. any vehicle capable of driving itself should have multiple sensors to stop if it senses an object in front of the vehicle.


    this commercial shows radar/laser technology on mazda cars that can apply automatic brakes if it senses an object in front of the vehicle.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,707   +1,946

    I would not have seen her if I were driving. Further it's like she wasn't even looking when she was crossing the street. It also doesn't look like that was just a street, but a highway.

    The world can't be held accountable for the carelessness of *****s.

    edit: Really, id iots is censored?
    lipe123, wizardB, SirChocula and 11 others like this.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,868   +3,311

    Dark clothing, ignoring traffic, jay-walking ..... I'd say she did more than her part for getting hit. An inattentive driver in any vehicle would end up the same way. Considering the over all picture I'd lean in favor of the car. With the big picture of how many accidents and fatalities could be avoided it appears to be a no brainier but I would be strongly AGAINST any laws or rules that prohibited those that choose to be in control from doing so with the only exception being those that are impaired. This technology has developed too far to toss it aside and for those that are blind, wheelchair bound, etc. it will provide them a greater source of freedom and independence. As one that is approaching the age when I won't be able to drive any longer, the technology will allow me to stay in my home and get out of the house a lot longer.
    wizardB, SirChocula, bobc4012 and 4 others like this.
  6. R6exR6

    R6exR6 TS Rookie

    Yup. Nothing an autonomous vehicle or an alert driver can do about this incident. The lady appeared too suddenly, and at that speed, nobody can stop the car in an instant. That said, I feel the software of this Uber autonomous car should've reacted faster to stop the car. Instead, it hardly did anything. A really alert driver would be scrubbed off some speed prior to impact - better than nothing (as in video).
    wizardB, Godel, MonsterZero and 2 others like this.
  7. The cyclist is at fault here. There should be absolutely no charges against Uber. If you are going to illegally cross the street (especially at night), you take 100% responsibility for whatever happens.

    Sadly, this problem won’t stop until the cops are as vigorous with jaywalking citations as they are with vehicle citations. Huge problem where I live.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,873

    Wow - I just liked the last four comments in a row.
    NimbusTLD and stewi0001 like this.
  9. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,035   +1,444

    I'd like to know how many feet in front of the vehicle this person was when they stepped in front. In other words, how much stopping distance was available. If you're travelling 50 mph (my guesstimate of the road speed in this video) and someone 75 feet in front of you steps in front of your car - no amount of sensors or attentive driver is going to be able to stop in time.

    I put this accident at 95% the fault of the jaywalker and 5% driver/car. If the driver had been paying attention, at that speed and with a dark-clad individual jaywalking on a 50mph roadway, the best she could have done is swerve which would have endangered her own life and also still probably clipped the jaywalker.
    SirChocula and cliffordcooley like this.
  10. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 594   +434

    Exactly. If a normal driver would have hit her too, then you can't blame the self-driving car. This was the pedestrian's fault however sad the outcome. Yes, we can improve the sensors but seriously, why do we expect ai to be perfect right out of the game when WE aren't perfect?
    cliffordcooley and yRaz like this.
  12. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Evangelist Posts: 630   +403

    As expected, no reflectors/bike lights, not looking before crossing the street, jaywalker. Oh man I love that attitude she has expecting the car to stop for her in a dark road. There is no way an ordinary driver could have stop and not hitting the lady. Though, I can see those who don't drive would say the car is in fault in here.
    Ggomadesuwing and SirChocula like this.
  13. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,087   +1,504

    So ultimately people will justify jaywalking and not paying attention as you do so.
    SirChocula likes this.
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,426   +1,824

    I get the feeling that there is significant hypocrisy in the comments. Like everyone who is claiming that it is her fault has never crossed the street outside of a crosswalk. I call bullcrap!

    If that had been any of you, then it would have been OK for any self-driving vehicle to run you over with out charges. More bullcrap!

    The simple fact of the matter is that the sensors almost certainly had her in their sights long before the driver did, and that is at the least apparent since the driver was apparently looking down when the accident happened.

    In any event, things like this will happen. People will cross the street whenever and where ever they please, especially if it is a significant distance to the nearest crosswalk. At least as I see it, it is NOT OK, even though it may be lawful, for a self-driving vehicle to pass a death sentence on anyone not crossing the street in the crosswalk. The vehicle should have made an effort to stop at the very least. The computer systems in this car is in no way an ordinary driver. IMO, if a self-driving vehicle cannot make an effort stop in this kind of circumstance, then it should not be allowed on the road.
    Hasbean and ShagnWagn like this.
  15. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,786   +1,099

    Consensus - 95% unavoidable with fault of jaywalker bearing blame. However, Uber software must be 'cr*p'. RADAR/LIDAR should resolve an object on roadway converging with projected journey for car. Brakes should have been applied as soon as object was visible to human eye.

    If Uber has its head on straight they will do something to compensate - if only for the contribution to "troubleshooting" their 'cr*p' before it gets widespread use. Avoid Collision is the primary rule of navigation..
    wiyosaya likes this.
  16. Guillermo Belli

    Guillermo Belli TS Member Posts: 25   +19

    I don't think any human driver would've seen the lady until she was right in front of the car, let alone stop the car before hitting her.

    In the case of an autonomous car, I expect the sensor arrays to detect things in the dark and react accordingly. I'm not implying Uber is responsible, as the woman acted in an imprudent manner, but I guess the car could've done better.

    Hopefully this incident will serve as a way to make autonomous vehicles better.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  17. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 537   +369

    Really? So most of you here say that it wouldn't have killed her if she was crossing at the crosswalk instead? Umm... So it was her fault that an autonomous car killed her? Let alone didn't even try to avoid her. Pedestrians have the right of way no matter where they are, so that argument is squashed.

    "She later died in hospital, becoming the first person to be killed by an autonomous vehicle."
    What?? So the others that died don't count? The guy who was decapitated by a tesla would like to talk to you. Oh wait... He was killed by an autonomous vehicle.
    Hasbean and wiyosaya like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,640   +735

    Clearly this is an insufficient sensor array on the vehicle. Additionally, the pedestrian was visible for a few seconds prior to impact but the computer didn't "see" them. THIS is the reason you can't just use optical sensors for autonomous vehicles, you must use additional object detection technologies such as laser scanners, radar, and thermal imaging. This shouldn't have happened if they were using the tech we have available.

    That being said, the pedestrian is indeed jaywalking and is at fault here. A human driver even if they were paying attention (this one clearly is not) most likely wouldn't have seen the pedestrian until it was too late.

    So what have we learned here?
    - Well Uber's software that is supposed to detect objects and pedestrians in the roadway using their optical sensors clearly needs work.
    - Uber also needs to start using additional technologies like laser scanning, radar, and thermal imaging.
    - Drivers need to pay attention at ALL times. Even half a second can be the difference between life and death.
    - Pedestrians need to stop being impatient, lazy, and inattentive. You vs. a 3000 lb + vehicle traveling at speed, bad things will happen to you.
  19. mctommy

    mctommy TS Addict Posts: 275   +58

    I've jaywalked before but I would never have jaywalked during the middle of the night in a dark area like this person did... also I haul it to the other side... so I agree with the others that she's at fault.

    I don't think I would have been able to stop either if I were driving in non-autonomous mode as the headlights cover only so much FOV and I wouldn't have had time to react.
  20. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Maniac Posts: 323   +200

    I believe the woman with the bike was at fault here. Crossing a dark road away from the intersection is just a bad idea. I find it interesting that the vehicle's sensors didn't detect her out there. I mean after all, companies like BMW have tech that can scan people in pitch black on the roads from very far off. How is it an autonomous vehicle doesn't have this? Also the driver clearly looks like she was texting. If I were to blame anyone, I'd blame the driver or copilot or whatever you want to call it. She was looking down at her phone and may have been able to prevent this. Don't forget, this is a video on a camera with poor quality. It's very possible her eyes could been able to see the woman in the street. Just because the video couldn't see her, doesn't mean the human eye can't.
  21. Hasbean

    Hasbean TS Booster Posts: 124   +35

    Wow, some of the comments here are so dismissive of the death of this poor old lady. She could have been your Mom. Still feel the same way?

    Modern LED lights are very precise in the field of illumination. Your old Mom on her way back from 7-11 may not have seen the headlights. There was no street lighting. The car was steel gray in color. Still feel the same way?

    The lives of my family and friends should not be endangered by the experiments that are autonomous vehicles.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  22. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,304   +1,321

    Obviously not.... if the sensors had detected the cyclist, then the car would have attempted to stop!! Unless you are accusing Uber of programming their cars to deliberately mow people down, this is clearly NOt what happened!

    While governments try, there is no way to 100% guard against stupidity... while cars will attempt to avoid pedestrians even if they are crossing illegally, sometimes it's just unavoidable. Yes, sometimes the driver is at fault... but unless we're talking about homicidal maniacs, very few drivers intentionally hit pedestrians! If you listen to traffic news in your city, you should know that pedestrians die almost every day (depends on the size obviously - Toronto, which is considered one of the safer cities in North America still loses tons every year)... all of these deaths are from cars WITH DRIVERS!! Will driverless cars continue to kill pedestrians? Of course they will! But almost guaranteed they will kill far less than presently....

    Um... since when? What country / state do you live in that this is a law? Pedestrians do NOT have right-of-way no matter where they are... that's why J-walking is illegal, and there are signs all over the roads that say "Pedestrians do not cross", etc...
    Yes, a driver is expected to try not to kill pedestrians... but there's a reason charges will most likely NOT be levied against Uber in this incident.... because the pedestrian did NOT have right of way.... you can't just cross a street abruptly at night on a busy street and expect that all will go well...
    SirChocula and cliffordcooley like this.
  23. Ggomadesuwing

    Ggomadesuwing TS Rookie

    I almost hit a pedestrian at like this. She was crossing on a clear 'NO WALK' signal, and my green light, at a major intersection. It was the middle of the night, she was dressed in dark clothes, and I was going around 50. She bolted out of nowhere, and screamed at me as I blasted past her with a couple of inches to spare. She is lucky to be alive. Some people are just stupid when it comes to being aware of what's going on around them on the road; they are prepared to gamble their lives away breaking the rules just so that they can get home a few minutes earlier.
    SirChocula and cliffordcooley like this.
  24. Abraka

    Abraka TS Addict Posts: 176   +54

    What happened to "self-driving cars see better than human drivers"??
    The crappy car didn't have infrared sensors. Otherwise it would see her.
    The crappy car didn't have a radar. Otherwise it would see her.
    So it's not better than a human driver.
    Except by killing people this way, nobody is guilty.
    ISIS will probably order 2000 responsibility-free self-driving cars. It's better than suicide bombers.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,873

    On this I will agree. However you can't jump out in front of a moving vehicle and expect it to stop, not even at a cross walk. Vehicles have the right of way, unless posted for pedestrian crossings. And even then the vehicle must have clear instructions to stop for the crossing, before they are held liable for failing to stop.

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