Last night a woman was struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona


In Mississippi a death in such a situation would likely be considered negligent homicide and SOMEONE would be held negligent. Most likely it would be the human sitting in the driver’s seat and I would agree with that.


Some reports say it was not speeding (38 in a 45 zone).

The ultimate blame goes to the deceased for walking in front of a car!

This would have been a great opportunity for Uber’s technology to shine, though.


Would you have turned a hard left if you knew there was an 18 wheeler doing 30mph more then you and only 50’ behind?

Personally I don’t know what the cause is…waiting for all the evidence to come in. But for sake of argument lets say the technology is at fault. What happens then. Seems to me you think we should just abandon the technology.

As an engineer - this is what will happen.

. Engineering team will examine data and determine what the cause is.
. It could be that there was a hardware fault. But I doubt that because any type of hardware fault, the autonomous mode shuts down and the driver will continue. Then vehicle is taken out of service.
. If there was a programming error that can be solved - fix it…test it, then redeploy. Trust me there - this is already happening now with their cars. I’m sure since testing they’ve found many glitches/bugs that need to be ironed out.
. If there isn’t a solution (very doubtful), then what next. Obviously you can’t have vehicles on the road with a known bug that could potentially kill people.

I still stand by my opinion (which I’ve stated many times here)…the overall technology is sound. It’s in the testing phase and there needs to be a lot more testing - then fixing any problems - repeat testing - before it’s ready for prime time.


Come on, have none of you had to make a split second maneuver to avoid an animal or other object? In that split second you determine there is no 18 wheeler coming in the opposite lane. Turning is faster than braking and the point is even if you can’t avoid hitting the object, a glancing blow is better than a head on. I fail to see how ABS would have made any difference since the car would not stop in time with or without ABS, and I’ve never thrown the car into a slide or rollover by an abrupt turn to avoid an object. That’s part of knowing the limits of your vehicle and pre-planning avoidance measures.

Maybe a 16 year old kid would have just slammed on the brakes and closed their eyes, but an experienced driver would have tried to avoid it by turning the wheel knowing they could not stop in time. Sheesh, even when I was 17 and got T boned in my VW, the first thing I did was make a hard right turn while braking to reduce the impact when I saw the vehicle speeding through the intersection. Still landed on the lawn but avoided as hard a hit as it could have been. Even the police commented that it lessened the impact. That’s what humans do. Assess the options available and choose the best of the worst.


I’m curious: what do you mean by “prime time”?
To me, being on public roads where someone could be, and now has been, killed is “prime time”. Presence of a human monitor/driver doesn’t make it other than “prime time”.


I’m with you and the idea of swerving to try and avoid something.
Yet that is with my hands on the wheel and my conscious/unconscious/subconscious mind knowing that I steer the car’s direction.
The human monitor/driver in this case was nowhere near that.

(Btw, I’ve had the good fortune of having driven cars with handling so responsive that it feels like steering is telepathic even though it’s thru my hands on the wheel. This is why I see steering as a state of mind one is in when hands are on the wheel and one is driving, rather than distracted with something else.)


Because panic-slamming on the brakes in a non-ABS car will lock the wheels and it won’t steer.


Saw an interesting comment elsewhere, something like ‘computers are good at monitoring, people good at driving, switch those responsibilities and trouble follows. People get distracted, computers don’t care about self preservation…’.


I have, and I chose not to panic, running over the animal to avoid thousands of dollars worth of property damage. It broke my heart to do it, but thank goodness it wasn’t a person.

The reason I bought up ABS because you mentioned turning and braking simultaneously. If you do that on a non ABS vehicle, that will put you into a skid.


On the news last night they showed the videos of the incident, from both forward-facing and rear facing dash cams. On the forward view, the pedestrian was slowly walking her bicycle across the road in an area that was completely dark (no street lights or businesses anywhere near) and was wearing all dark clothing. The camera did not pick up the pedestrian until just before it hit her. On the news they said the car was travelling at 40 mph.
On the rear view it showed the person in the driver’s seat looking down (at her phone) until just before the impact. So it appears that 1) the vehicle’s radar system had insufficient range to pick up the pedestrian, and 2) having a person in the driver’s seat is of no benefit whatsoever if they’re not going to pay attention to the road.


Never never never have I put a car into a skid while turning hard and braking. You don’t brake to lock the wheels up because the car will not stop in time whether locked up or not. That’s why you turn to avoid the object primarily.


I never said you did say that, I said you “might as well have” said it. There are a little over 260 million registered passenger cars in the U.S., only a very small handful of those are autonomous, they’re still kind of experimental. So comparing non-autonomous car fatalities to autonomous car fatalities doesn’t prove much except that there are a lot more non autonomous autos on the highways than there are autonomous cars.
I commented on your statement, I didn’t misrepresent it or put words in your mouth, so no strawman.


Our frikkin new rav 4 has stop avoidance collinsion built in. Now our salesman did say they were on a demo in light rain and it failed, Blamed on raindrops on the sensors. Could be dirt on a sensor etc.


This one needed a robot helper. Incidentally my 61 Corvair was side swiped by a girl taking her drivers test too way back. They did leave a note and she also failed. I took my test in a blinding snow storm and still got a 94. Had to stop to clean the rear window once though. So yeah, I can swerve hard without going into a slide or rolling over.


And we can be sure that will be great solace to the family of the bike rider in Tempe @Barkydog. But I get the impression that if I live to drive among self driving vehicles the owners of those vehicles will more often benefit from my attention and efforts than I will from theirs.

Someday autonomous vehicles could be an extremely safe and reliable solution to personal transportation but it’s unlikely that I will live to see it. Maybe my great grandchildren will benefit from it in 30 years.


Are you sure about that ? My understanding is that totally self driving cars (w/out any driver) are scheduled to take the roads in Calif and possibly other states within two or three months.

Very true, but should that experiment be done on public roads? Seems the public should have a say on that first. Seems the fair thing is to let each state vote on whether they want driverless cars on their roads or not before granting access to these Beta experiments.


Prime Time is an old Engineering Slang term which means - Done with testing and ready for release


There may be some test areas. It just might be another phase of testing.

Unfortunately YES. You can’t simulate it. At some point it needs to be tested in real world scenario. Do you trust an autonomous to be suddenly approved for all roads without this type of testing? I sure don’t.

They did. Uber had to get state and city approval from all the areas they have autonomous cars in.


California (at the moment anyway) appears to be ready to allow self driving cars without a human operator on board starting next month, April. There is an actual human electronically monitoring the cameras remotely apparently.

February 23, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Self-driving cars that back up their computerized system with a remote human operator instead of a fallback driver at the wheel could be tested on California roads as early as April, the state department of motor vehicles said.

Relying on a remote human operator - who could control multiple autonomous vehicles from miles away - is a step that would allow a path to profitability in the nascent field of self-driving technology by eliminating California’s requirement for in-car minders.


I was not taking the step because of what if or why, or even considering solace, just presenting things that were presented to me.