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Uber self-driving vehicle involved in fatal collision with pedestrian

By Greg S ยท 47 replies
Mar 19, 2018
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  1. Outside Phoenix, Arizona, in a suburb called Tempe, a self-driving Uber SUV struck a woman around 10 PM on Sunday night. The vehicle was confirmed to be operating in self-driving mode at the time of the collision. There was an operator in the driver's seat of the vehicle at the time of the incident although it is unknown whether any attempt was made to avoid a collision.

    The woman struck was a pedestrian crossing the street outside of a marked crosswalk. She was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead from her injuries. Uber has since issued a statement, "Our hearts go out to the victim’s family," and has agreed to fully cooperate with investigators on the matter.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already sent a crash investigation team out to the scene. This marks the first time that an autonomous vehicle has been responsible for the death of a pedestrian. Although consumers have placed high levels of trust into self-driving technologies, this event could be a major setback to acceptance of autonomous vehicles.

    Uber has since suspended all testing of self-driving vehicles until the investigation is closed. Alphabet's Waymo and General Motors have both been testing in the Phoenix area due to its friendly stance towards self-driving vehicles. Neither company has commented on whether their plans will change as a result of this incident.

    Self-driving Volvos were moved from California to Arizona after the California Department of Motor Vehicles barred Uber from testing on public roadways. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey originally welcomed new technology declaring, "Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads."

    Even though the pedestrian was outside of a marked crosswalk, questions are still raised as to how software should handle similar situations in the future, assuming sensors were able to detect a human at all. Legislators will certainly be taking a further look into the situation before allowing autonomous vehicle technologies to continue testing on public roadways.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Misagt

    Misagt TS Maniac Posts: 258   +184

    So it begins... The rise of AI is here!
    astralcyborg and bolski like this.
  3. bolski

    bolski TS Booster Posts: 64   +74

    What's more alarming is the fact that a safety person was in the vehicle. How much you want to bet that person was on their phone and/or not paying attention? This isn't the first issue with Uber. In the past, a self-driving Uber car ran a red light in San Francisco while the company operated in the city without regulatory approval.
    ShagnWagn and JaredTheDragon like this.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,715   +1,951

    Almost 40,000 people a year die in the US in automotive accidents, but you hear about ONE autonomous car death accident a year.
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,798   +1,101

    Lets wait to see the telemetry.
    liammac002, Uncle Al and wiyosaya like this.
  6. gusticles41

    gusticles41 TS Guru Posts: 350   +411

    Kind of have to look at the ratios, not numbers. But still, I can only assume autonomous vehicles are MUCH less likely to cause fatal accidents than a human. It's just hard to put that positive spin on it after someone died.
  7. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,352   +865

    "Even though the pedestrian was outside of a marked crosswalk..."

    Almost sounds like they walked in front of the car. Both the AI and the "driver" didn't react in time to avoid the pedestrian, or brake earlier so that the pedestrian wouldn't get fatally injured (though I would bet that the "driver" wasn't paying attention anyways).
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,431   +1,824

    People will cross outside of cross-walks whether they are supposed to or not. Self-driving vehicles will need to accommodate this. I frequently see people doing this.

    Not only that, but people, without looking, will get into their cars parked curbside. All things like this, IMO, will need to be taken into account for self-driving vehicles.

    It will be interesting to see the report on the accident.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  9. Skjorn

    Skjorn TS Maniac Posts: 309   +169

    I have had someone intentionally jump in front of my car on a dark night, not much time to react, I swerved into the oncoming lane and managed to miss the human trying to kill themselves. I had to cross the double yellow considerably to miss this person. I don't see automated cars doing that, deciding to break the law in an instant to miss hitting a human on a dark night, if I would have just hit the brakes I would of killed that guy, happened way too fast.
    Like gusticles41 said, ratios, are there equally as many autonomous vehicles and piloted vehicles? not even close, so yeah you will hear about the tiny fraction of new cars without drivers killing people.
    Theinsanegamer and Kibaruk like this.
  10. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,720   +1,135

    I was driving one day at about 4 am and I missed a drunk fellow by a centimetre crossing in the middle of nowhere, the night gave him enough cover to be hidden to the human eye, I was very awake and without any substance at the moment. I almost got a heart attack (Same as my co-pilot, he didn't see the drunk dude either) and the dude just kept on walking like a zombie across the street.

    Wow wow wow!!! Hold your panties!!! We don't know what happened and the vehicle did not run the person down. In fact reading that the person did not use the appropriate cross walks this could have been their own fault or a suicidal person. Sadly, there are not enough sensors in the world to avoid human error
    Godel likes this.
  11. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,448   +1,619

    Autonomous cars are brand new technology, so people are paying attention to them. We all accept people will kill other people when driving, and that it is a risk, but a machine on its own killing a person is completely different, and brings up all sorts of legal questions.

    There are also hundreds of millions of cars on the planet, less then 0.1% of those are fully autonomus, and even fewer are on public roads. If one of those kills someone, that is very statistically significant.

    It also brings up questions. One of the biggest benefits of full autonomy is that they are supposed to be much safer. If this woman was in the clear (which we dont know yet), and the car goofed up (much like the san francisco incident where an uber car ran a red light on its own) then that could indicate that autonomous technology is far further back then previously thought, and may not be as safe as some would believe. That could have major knock on effects, and as such an incident lie this captures a lot of national attention.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  12. matrix86

    matrix86 TS Guru Posts: 846   +38

    Yeah, but there are over 263 million cars on the road, and maybe like, what, 3 or 4 autonomous cars that don't even run every day?
  13. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 546   +297

    Leave it to Uber to be the first one to screw this up. Thanks Uber, leave the self driving to Google.
  14. Solar Flair

    Solar Flair TS Enthusiast Posts: 33   +24

    Just search "Insurance Scammers" in youtube...
    I would like to see how AI handle those crazy people.
  15. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,715   +1,951


    there are hundreds of thousands of cars on the road with autonomous and self driving features. The last time a self driving car killed someone? the Tesla that hit a truck on the highway in autonomous mode.

    If everyone in the thread is going to gang up on me at least come at me with some facts. And stop acting like this is shocking, stop pretending that you actually feel human life is precious. There are far fewer accidents due to AI in vehicles that don't have a self driving mode. Things like automatic stopping and accident avoidance systems in cars has reduced the number of accidents. These systems are on all nearly ALL vehicles made in the last 5 years.

    No one cars about the other 100+ people the are going to die in a car accident today but someone steps into the street in front of an autonomous car and everyone screams skynet.
  16. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,875   +3,315

    So, does this count as the first score in Deathrace 3000?
  17. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,798   +1,101

    Nope, it's a score in the JayDead 50
  18. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 640   +240

    Dumbasses should have built a mock city for testing.
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  19. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,798   +1,101

    Potemkin, whither thou?
  20. Ravey

    Ravey TS Addict Posts: 142   +65

    I have a feeling this is going to come down to braking distances. I'm betting the car just simply didn't have enough space and time to stop completely before striking the victim. Even if a driver was in control, the outcome would likely have been the same.

    One thing to consider is that autonomous vehicles are not sentient, so they are not able to perceive or understand what is happening around them. Someone who is aware of what's going on "may" have spotted a pedestrian acting erratically and be able to take take action by slowing down before anything serious happened. This is why autonomous vehicles will -for the time being- need fully qualified drivers behind the wheel. just in case.

    Next we have to look at the speeds of our roads. In the uk all heavily populated residential areas have speed restrictions of 20mph (32 kph approx). This is to avoid the chance of fatal injuries if a pedestrian is hit and to also give drivers a chance to avoid a collision. City centres however are still set to 30mph (48 kph approx) despite cities being extremely populated. High population + late night + drunken pedestrians .. Accidents will still happen.
  21. jason lee

    jason lee TS Rookie Posts: 16   +6

    "The pedestrian was outside of a marked crosswalk" - You cross at your own risk is what I say.
  22. Nick_Knac

    Nick_Knac TS Rookie

    ... and so do I. I've nearly been hit by vehicles on a number of occasions in my long life; each time it was because I wasn't paying proper attention. No vehicle has to my knowledge jumped out and tried to hit me, though I can imagine a situation where I would be injured as collateral damage in another vehicular event in which I was not initially involved.
    So, automotive vehicles or not the responsibility rests with humans. The idea that AI is foolproof is ... well just foolish.
  23. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 619   +217

    The guy in the car was just lucky it wasn't a moose , they don't use crosswalks either.
  24. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,798   +1,101

    That's why they cut the trees back 100 ft on the Maine Turnpike.
  25. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 619   +217

    moose here in Canada are mostly black, no lights along the highway.the cutting back of forest along the highway works somewhat. a motion detection system was tested ,has since been removed .there is still no AI that can make decisions like the human brain . Good AI should come before we allow autonomous vehicles on the roads. automation is moving too fast IMO. that includes replacing workers ..what's the plan for all the displaced workers, commercial drivers, ETC? anybody got thoughts on this? I would like to hear them.

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