New NTSB report in fatal crash involving self-driving car

08 Novembre, 2019, 12:39 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • The Associated Press

The Uber self-driving SUV that was involved in a lie-taking accident in Arizona past year, was not created to detect jaywalking pedestrians, claims a media report. The documents paint a picture of safety and design lapses with tragic consequences but didn't assign a cause for the crash.

"We deeply value the thoroughness of the NTSB's investigation into the crash and look forward to reviewing their recommendations once issued after the NTSB's board meeting later this month", the company said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Uber's self-driving vehicle effort, Sarah Abboud, said the company regretted the crash that killed Herzberg and noted it has "adopted critical program improvements to further prioritize safety".

The case is being closely watched in the emerging industry of self-driving vehicles, a technology that has attracted billions of dollars in investment from companies such as General Motors Co. and Alphabet Inc.in an attempt to transform transportation.

Because the crash, Uber has redesigned its radar to do the job on distinctive frequencies than the Volvo radar, enabling the Volvo emergency braking procedure to stay engaged whilst Uber is testing its have self-driving engineering. "I think they were playing fast and loose with people's lives, and Elaine Hertzberg has paid the price". The self-driving vehicle reportedly failed to calculate that it could collide with her until 1.2 seconds before impact. As NTSB's Vehicle Automation Report reads, "The system design did not include consideration for jaywalking pedestrians".

In this case, while a human driver would intuitively know, when faced with the scenario, that visually that a pedestrian was crossing outside of a designated crosswalk, the machine doesn't know that, unless it's programmed to - and in this case, it apparently wasn't.

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Other revelations from the trove of new documents show that Uber's cars were involved in 37 crashes in the 18 months prior to the fatal Arizona crash.

NTSB during its investigation it "communicated several safety-relevant issue areas (to Uber) that were uncovered during the course of the investigation".

NTSB said Uber conducted simulation of sensor data from the crash with the revised software and told the agency that "the new software would have been able to detect and correctly classify the pedestrian at a distance of approximately 88 metres - 4.5 seconds - before the original time of impact". A human was in the driver's seat but didn't keep the vehicle from plowing into 49-year-old Herzberg near a busy intersection, according to authorities. Despite the fact the driver was distracted, the vehicle was never adequately programmed to detect jaywalkers, some safety features were disabled, and Uber had little to no safety protocols in place, prosecutors have already absolved Uber of criminal liability (though the driver still may face a lawsuit). Other companies, such as GM's Cruise affiliate, use two. Unfortunately, prior to the 2018 crash, Uber would automatically disable Volvo's collision prevention system when Uber's own technology was active.

The Uber auto also initiated a one-second delay of planned braking while the vehicle calculated an alternative path or the safety driver could take over.

Uber has since discontinued that function as part of its software update.

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