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.
Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) March 21, 2018
the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available. pic.twitter.com/2dVP72TziQ