More details have emerged about the self-driving Uber car crash that killed a woman in Arizona earlier this year. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary findings Thursday about the March 18 fatal crash. Elaine Herzberg, 49, was struck and killed while walking a bicycle across a four-lane road in Tempe, Arizona. A 44-year-old Uber test driver was at the wheel of the modified 2017 Volvo XC90. The car was in autonomous mode and had been for the 19 minutes before the crash.
For a while, people were really excited about the potential of self-driving cars, which promised to make our future commutes easier, more productive, and safer. Then came some high-profile autonomous vehicle accidents -- including two fatal crashes -- and let's just say the excitement has waned a bit. SEE ALSO: Tesla's Autopilot fails haven't shaken my faith in self-driving cars. A new survey released Tuesday by the American Automobile Association found that 73 percent of American drivers are scared to ride in an autonomous vehicle. That figure is up 10 percent from the end of last year.
Last week, Apple's secretive, self-driving car project got some attention for adding more cars approved for testing in California. But despite the company's big name and the heightened curiosity over the iPhone-maker's foray into autonomous vehicles, the winner here is not the company you'd expect. We looked at the past few months of reports from the California DMV's self-driving permit program to see which of the 50-plus (and growing) companies involved are stepping up its testing. Only two companies -- Waymo, the self-driving car program from Google, and one other that has not been publicly revealed at this time -- have applied for permits for the state's truly driverless testing program, which would allow for an empty vehicle. In terms of cars currently allowed to test drive on the California road, GM's Cruise Automation dominates the big players.
A woman rear-ended a fire truck in Utah last week and broke her ankle in the crash. That in and of itself doesn't seem like the typical story that would trigger national coverage, but because a Tesla electric car with semi-autonomous features was involved, everyone's talking about it. SEE ALSO: Pro-tip: Tesla's autopilot doesn't mean you can sit in the passenger seat This week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk doubled (tripled? The stat Musk and the company repeated (and will continue to repeat) about Autopilot reducing crash rates by 40 percent came under some scrutiny earlier this month. Wired found that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration-backed stat is likely based on flawed, unreliable data.
Uber is still dealing with the fallout from a deadly accident involving one of its autonomous cars, but that's not stopping the company from moving on to the next transportation innovation. Ahead of its Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, Uber shared a prototype of its "flying taxi" with CBS This Morning. "We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS. "We want to make that a reality." Uber showed CBS a prototype of the vehicle, which looks more like an airplane-like drone than a flying car. It runs on electricity, and has several stacked propellers that allow for both a vertical lift and a forward thrust.
The 49-year-old woman struck and killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona earlier this year was detected by the autonomous vehicle's sensors, but the car didn't avoid her due to an improper software setting, according to a Monday report from the Information. Elaine Herzberg was hit on a March night while walking a bicycle across a main thoroughfare. The Uber vehicle with an operator in the front seat was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash. "Two people briefed about the matter" told the Information that the software in the car detected the woman, but there was a problem with how the software decides how to react to objects. The Information says the software is able to decide if an object is a "false positive," like debris or trash that it doesn't need to react to.
The hybrid two-seat helicopter SureFly from the electric truck company Workhorse made it off the ground this week. While a few feet of hover might seem insignificant, the passenger drone startup is hailing the untethered lift-off with a pilot outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a huge success. For the hybrid gas- and battery-powered vertical take-off and landing vehicle (known as VTOL), this means the copter is on its way to flying with passengers inside. Once airborne, the craft will have a 75-mile range. "People want to have something in their garage to take out and fly," SureFly CEO Steve Burns said in a call Friday afternoon.
After a woman was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona earlier this year, Toyota paused its autonomous driving program. Now, more than a month later, the car company is resuming its testing in California and Michigan within the next few weeks, a company spokesperson said -- and they're rolling out brand new facilities. As its vehicles ease back onto the roads, Toyota is building a massive autonomous driving test facility in Michigan. The closed-course track was announced Thursday and is set to open in October, located in Ottawa Lake at the Michigan Technical Resource Park. The 60-acre track will give Toyota a space to test "edge cases," or situations too dangerous to test on public roads.
After Tesla failed to hit its goal of producing 2,500 Model 3 electric cars a week, CEO Elon Musk says he's figured out what went wrong: robots. Yes, robots, which are designed to help build lots and lots of Tesla's electric vehicle at an insane speed, are to blame for why customers who pre-ordered the Model 3 still haven't gotten them yet. In an interview with CBS Good Morning, Musk said the Model 3 is in "production hell" because Tesla used too many robots. "It's worse than I thought," Musk said. "We have this crazy complex network of conveyor belts and it was not working so we got rid of that whole thing."
Tesla has been removed from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X in the Bay Area. The advisory group pulled the electric car maker from the investigation after Tesla continued to release information about the crash, including a post on the company blog confirming that the vehicle was in Autopilot mode. The NTSB said the removal was a rare move, but Tesla's information releases "do not further transportation safety or serve the public interest." SEE ALSO: Tesla's Autopilot fails haven't shaken my faith in self-driving cars. In a news release about the removal, the NTSB wrote, "Such releases of incomplete information often lead to speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, which does a disservice to the investigative process and the traveling public."