Self-driving Uber car that hit and killed woman did not recognize that pedestrians jaywalk


A self-driving Uber car that struck and killed an Arizona woman wasn't able to recognize that pedestrians jaywalk, federal safety investigators revealed in documents released earlier this week. Elaine Herzberg, 49, died after she was hit in March 2018 by a Volvo SUV, which had an operator in the driver's seat and was traveling at about 40 mph in autonomous mode at night in Tempe. The fatal accident came as a result of the automated Uber's not having "the capability to classify an object as a pedestrian unless that object was near a crosswalk," said one of the documents released by the National Traffic Safety Board, or NTSB. Because the car couldn't recognize Herzberg as a pedestrian or a person -- instead alternating between classifications of "vehicle, bicycle, and an other" -- it couldn't correctly predict her path and concluded that it needed to brake just 1.3 seconds before it struck her as she wheeled her bicycle across the street a little before 10 p.m. Uber told the NTSB that it "has since modified its programming to include jaywalkers among its recognized objects," but other concerns were also expressed in NTSB's report. Uber had disabled the emergency braking system, relying on the driver to stop in this situation, but the system wasn't designed to alert the operator, who "intervened less than a second before impact by engaging the steering wheel," the documents said.

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