Experts have called Uber’s first self-driving car crash, which killed a pedestrian last week, a “catastrophic failure” by Uber’s technology.
Footage released by police showed how the car did not appear to slow down or detect the woman, which should part of the cars most basic function.
“This is exactly the type of situation that Lidar and radar are supposed to pick up,” said David King, a professor at Arizona State University and transportation planning expert. “This is a catastrophic failure that happened with Uber’s technology.”
Uber’s Lidar technology is supposed to “see” the world around it – but failed to do so on the car’s test drive.
Missy Cummings, a Duke University engineering professor who has previously commented on the dangers of autonomous driving said “this safety driver was not doing any safety monitoring.”
“The problem of complacent safety drivers is going to be a problem for every company,” she added.
The test drive was carried out at 10 pm on a Sunday. Despite the low light levels, the lidar technology should not have been affected.
“Shadows don’t matter to Lidar,” said Cummings. “There is no question it should have been able to see her.”
Uber has declined to comment on the causes of the crash. A spokesperson said the released video was “disturbing and heartbreaking”.
“Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can.”
Uber said in a statement on Twitter: “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”
The victim was 49-year old Elaine Herzberg, who was walking outside of the crosswalk with a bicycle when she was hit. The 2017 Volvo SUV was travelling at 38 miles an hour and did not slow down when it approached Elaine.