Uber’s self-driven car crash was vehicle operator’s fault

The Uber car crash that happened in March 2018 was a self-driven card, and it is the vehicle operator’s fault for being distracted when it happened in Tempe, Arizona. The primary cause of this accident was the safety driver’s neglection to monitor the road. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also stated that a contributing factor to this horrible accident is Uber’s inadequate safety culture.

Federal investigations report said that they blame everyone involved in the crash, the company, the safety driver in the vehicle, the victim, and the state of Arizona. The verdict that came on Tuesday was based on the information collected by a team that was investigating the crash for over a year. They were trying to figure out why the vehicle failed to detect a woman crossing the street across the sidewalk.

The accident was captured by the video instilled in the car’s dashboard. The footage captured by the camera just before the crash shows us the pedestrian (Elaine Herzberg) walking her bike, which is loaded with bags across the road, which was apparently dark. The footage ends at the point of impact. The vehicle operator (Rafaela Vasquez) sitting at the wheel, seemingly glancing at her lap, was also captured by the camera.  

According to the investigators, Vasquez was watching some video on her phone while she was sitting on the self-driving car. The video shows her looking up 6 seconds before the crash, and then she looks up again a second before the crash and then looks again at her phone. The car ends up colliding with Elaine and kills her.

This accident turns out to be the first known pedestrian death caused by a vehicle that was in a fully autonomous mode according to the uber public records of 2018. This led to the police scrutinizing Uber’s self-driving program, which led to the scrutiny of other self-driving cars and their safety. The NTSB also stated uber could have done something more to prevent this fatal accident. They also added that though machine perception is very challenging; uber did not exactly have a safety plan at the time of this unfortunate accident. This lack of oversight on Uber’s part has also contributed to this accident.

The NTSB narrowed down the reasons for the crash as the following:

  1. Rafaela Vasquez failed to pay attention to the road and the automated driving system because she was too busy watching something on her phone. She was apparently watching The Voice on her phone and looked up a second later after the crash had happened, according to the investigators.
  2. Uber’s advanced technology group did not have a proper “safety risk assessment procedures. The board heavily criticized Uber for the lack of a safety division and a risk manager to assess and mitigate the risk of crashes just like these.
  3. Though the cars did have videos to record the drivers, Uber was not efficient enough to monitor the drivers that were violating the policies and were not strict about the use of cell phones while driving.
  4. Their inability to monitor automated driving systems and addressing automation complacency; Riding these sell-driven vehicles is dull, but uber should have had precautions for the safety drivers who became careless during the drive.
  5. The pedestrian who lost her life “Elaine Herzberg” was said to be high on methamphetamines at the time of the accident, which explains her lapse in judgment while crossing the street.
  6. Lastly, Arizona’s policies for automated vehicles on public roads were simply inefficient, which also lead to the accident.

The lack of a safety plan on Uber’s side does not exactly paint a good picture of Uber. NTSB found more disturbing information like the autonomous vehicles were not programmed to perceive and react to the pedestrians; it was also revealed this was not the first crash of the Uber autonomous vehicles. Uber has had 3 dozen vehicles crash in Tempe prior to this particular accident, which ended up fatal results.

In fact, further investigations only revealed that Uber had recently removed some critical safety feature which might have stopped the crash from happening and saved Herzberg’s life. But uber will not be facing any criminal charges because the prosecutor is not pressing any charges.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.