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Uber put driverless car trials on hold after fatal crash

Ridesharing firm Uber has announced it has suspended tests on its fleet of driverless vehicles in North America after a pedestrian was fatally struck in Tempe, Arizona.

Uber put driverless car trials on hold after fatal crash
A self-driving Uber Volvo | Image credit: ©Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

The Volvo XC90 SUV was in autonomous mode and there was a safety driver behind the steering wheel when it hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, on Sunday evening (18 March). She later died in hospital. 

Video footage of the crash shows Herzberg walking with her bicycle when she suddenly stepped into the road, outside of a zebra crossing. The car was travelling at about 65 kph and did not appear to slow down as it approached her. 

The incident is believed to be the first fatal crash involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in the US. 

In May 2016, a Tesla driver became the first motorist to be killed in such a vehicle when his Model S sedan crashed into a lorry in Florida while the Autopilot technology was enabled. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the collision and will “address the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclist”, it said

In a statement on Twitter, Uber said: “We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.” 

The company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi added: “We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.” 

Uber has now halted all self-driving tests across its Advanced Technologies Group locations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. 

Its driverless cars are fitted with a series of sensors, including radars, laser scanners and high resolution cameras, to help it map its environment. “Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road – pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers,” according to its website. 

Uber is also developing self-driving technology for long-haul commercial trucks.

 

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

Comments

  • The Video-Footage of the

    Permalink Submitted by Adam Sharp on 24 March 2018 - 12:36 pm

    The Video-Footage of the crash (that I have viewed) does not support the statement that the victim "suddenly" stepped into the road.
    The Footage appeared to be from cameras installed within the UBER Car.
    The Footage showed the victim crossing a two-lane carraigeway and being struck after crossing one of the lanes and entering the second lane.
    In the Footage, the Victim appeared to be looking straight at the UBER Car (and presumably its driver).
    On numerous occasions the Footage appears to show the Driver of the UBER Car looking down at something of interest within the car.
    The Footage also appears to show the Driver looking up and the looking forward through the windscreen of the Car at what I have assumed is a split-second before the Car's impact with the Victim.
    From the Video-Footage that I viewed, it is reasonable to suggest that the Driver of the UBER Car was not giving his full attention to the progress of the vehicle at the time of its impact. It is also reasonable to suggest that the accident itself was entirely avoidable had the Car been driven by a sensible, alert driver in the seconds preceding its impact with the Victim.

    reply
  • Quote “We’re thinking of the

    Permalink Submitted by Les Craven on 15 May 2018 - 01:15 pm

    Quote “We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”
    A driverless car is what happened. I can't comprehend, that in a supposedly intelligent society we have a fixation on autonomous vehicles with the myriad obstacles, both physical and technological, that our current road systems present.
    Life is not a computer game.

    reply

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