Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Uber self-driving SUV saw pedestrian but didn't brake

NTSB's preliminary report on Uber crash focuses on emergency braking Emergency brakes disabled on unmanned Uber that killed Arizona woman – report
Rhonda Young | 26 May, 2018, 18:37

Uber explained why the emergency braking systems were not enabled at the time of the accident.

A toxicology test carried out on Ms Herzberg after the accident returned positive results for methamphetamine and marijuana. Instead, she was looking below the dashboard, near the center console.

Arizona's governor in March suspended Uber's permit for the testing, citing safety concerns. The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Thursday on the collision.

The report comes as Uber is working to figure out the next steps for its self-driving auto program.

Uber said Wednesday that it is shutting down its self-driving vehicle operations in Arizona and laying off almost 300 employees there. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had already ordered the driverless road tests to stop in late March. The company said that it plans to restart testing in Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco after the Arizona crash investigation is finished. Volvo has said that its systems can begin braking in less than a second, and that human drivers would need more than one second to start themselves. The vehicle had been driving in full autonomous mode for around 20 minutes right up until the crash occurred. When the autonomous systems are in control, Volvo's safety tech - including City Safety - is taken offline. This was six seconds before impact. The software classified her as an unknown object and then shortly after as a bicycle.

At 1.3 seconds before impact, the system determined that the auto and the bicycle were on a collision course and an emergency braking maneuver was required. "The system is not created to alert the operator" when it thinks immediate braking is needed, which seems a rather large oversight to us.

In other words, it was all up to Vasquez. However, the automated system was not created to alert the driver of the impending danger.

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In the moments before the crash, the human test driver riding along was monitoring the self-driving system, the report added.

However, Uber told Phoenix New Times on Thursday that backup drivers aren't trained to look at the diagnostics while the vehicle is in motion.

The person in the driver's seat for emergencies applied the brakes less than a second before impact, unable to avoid the woman. But backup drivers are "not required to do anything with that information".

"Even though this was a self-driving vehicle, the driver still had the job of looking and paying attention to what was going on".

"The focus, first and foremost, is on the road ahead", the spokesperson said.

Although the cameras, radar, and lidar sensors all made actionable measurements about Herzberg's whereabouts and trajectory, the software was unable to properly interpret those signals and take appropriate action.

The NTSB report states that everything was working normally on the vehicle.

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"This report makes it clear that a self-driving vehicle was tested on public roads when it wasn't safe enough to be there, and it killed a pedestrian". She nearly made it to the curb.

Tempe police turned their investigation over to prosecutors on Wednesday.

The NTSB hasn't yet pulled the data from Vasquez's personal or business phones, both of which were in the vehicle.

The safety driver maintains that, although she had both a personal and a work phone in the auto with her, they were not being used at the time of the crash.

"The vehicle saw the pedestrian six seconds before impact but misclassified them until 1.3 seconds before impact", he said.

The videos may make it seem that way, but the crash site is, in fact, near two streetlights.

-The driver braked less than one second after hitting Herzberg. Preliminary findings that were leaked earlier this month claimed that the Volvo did see Elaine Herzberg as she was crossing the street at night. A few months after testing began, an Uber auto was involved in an accident with another vehicle, which had failed to stop at a junction. I don't know how far they'll go.

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"We're committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future", the company said. That irked Pittsburgh's mayor who said the company needed to make serious changes to its autonomous program before it could get back on the road.

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