Self-driving Uber SUV that killed a woman had emergency brake disabled, report says

The autonomous Uber SUV that struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March spotted the woman about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, according to federal investigators.

In a preliminary report on the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that emergency braking is not enabled while Uber’s cars are under computer control, “to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior.”

Instead, Uber relies on a human backup driver to intervene. The system, however, is not designed to alert the driver.

Well they announced that they are suspending the whole program at this point. So one computer was disabled so another computer wouldn’t cause erratic driving? Choice. So after this they started working on flying cabs. Will wonders never cease. I’d like to be at the next stock holders meeting.

The deceased was out at night on a bicycle. Crossed with no crosswalk, no street lighting, wearing dark clothes, no side reflectors on the bike, and tested positive for marijuana and meth.

It seems to me the car was the least of the problems.

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ummm… are you suggesting that she contributed to her death? If so, more than 50%, at 50%, or less than 50%?

The car (programming) was the problem. It detected her 6 seconds before the collision, did nothing for 5 seconds.

It’s just my 2 cents, but I blame her. If she had not been crossing the streeet in a non-marked area with proper clothing, with reflectors and lighting, and not been high on drugs I might give her a pass. As is; not.

At some point a person has to take a little personal responsibility or suffer the consequences.

There’s been half a dozen times in my life when I’ve come within a hair of wiping out some ignorant cyclist wearing dark clothes with no lighting and even riding in the street when a decent sidewalk was present. It’s assumed these people were not on drugs. Just stupid.

I tend to agree with @ok4450 on the conditions of the collision.

The woman who was killed was high on crank, had a bicycle without reflectors, was jaywalking across an unlit boulevard without looking for oncoming traffic. It appears she did just about everything wrong. I think she contributed significantly to her own death.

On top of that, it appears to me from looking at the video that she stopped in the middle of the street when she saw the car approaching.

This should have been an easy ‘save’ for the car: saw the person for 6 seconds, what more do you want? What if it had been a kid?

If it had been my kid hit by that car I would wonder where I went wrong not teaching my kid not to be impaired by illegal drugs in public while illegally crossing a road while not trying to avoid oncoming traffic. There was clearly a failure on the part of the car, but that doesn’t change the fact that the pedestrian was in the roadway illegally and shouldn’t have been there for the car to hit in the first place.

While I too agree that she was an accident waiting to happen, so was the Uber car an accident waiting to happen. Had it not been this lady, it could have been a kid chasing a ball from between parked cars with the same 6 seconds to respond. The result would have been the same with the kid hit because expecting a back up driver not actually driving to respond that fast is very very questionable. Are these not situations we have all had and we slam on the brakes or take evasive action in a millisecond? These kinds of close calls get your heart pumping and you say phew that was close, but the accident was avoided. Even if not entirely avoided, taking evasive action can mean the difference between life and death.
That’s the point, not whether or not the lady was on drugs without reflectors.

volvo has automatic “emergency” braking systems? that applies brakes in an emergency situation? vs a non emergency situation? i am thinking like adaptive cruise control that lowers throttle setting when it detects a car in front of you? and applies brakes if that car stops and your vehicle is traveling to fast? isnt that a NON emergency situation? like a typical scenario that we all encounter while driving?
so, uber disabled this braking system. and their software detected the person walking in road and did not slow vehicle by lowering throttle setting and applying brake? how does the system detect person? telepathy? positive waves? full moon?

One of my “Ninja” cyclists. I have seen a couple with their bicycles painted flat black! I don’t get it.