Published video of an unmanned Uber car that killed a man

The Tempe City Police Department (Arizona) has published the first fatal accident video footage that occurred late in the evening on Sunday March 18, 2018 with the participation of an unmanned Uber car. On the 22-second video there are two fragments: shooting from the front camera on the road and shooting a human driver who is sitting behind the wheel and controls the autopilot.

As a result of the accident, a 49-year-old local resident Elaine Herzberg (Elaine Herzberg), who crossed the roadway with a bicycle in her hands in the dark outside the controlled passage without retroreflective elements on clothes and a bicycle, died. This is the first pedestrian death in history as a result of a collision with an unmanned vehicle.

After the incident, Uber temporarily suspended testing of unmanned vehicles on public roads.

Based on preliminary information, the police did not see Uber guilty in the clash, although the published video still raises some questions. It shows that the insured human driver did not continuously monitor the road, as expected. A few seconds before the collision, she lowered her eyes down - perhaps to the screen of the smartphone that was in her hand. The driver on the video is Rafaela Vasquez, 44.

Preliminary results of the investigation showed that the unmanned vehicle did not slow down before the collision. The video seems to confirm this version: neither the autopilot nor the person managed to notice the pedestrian, slow down or take the evasion maneuver.

Police Chief Tempe Sylvia Moir the day after the accident gave a press conference and shared some information about the investigation. She said that the car at the time of the collision was moving at a speed of 61 km / h with a speed limit of 56 km / h (35 mph). Although Google Street View photos found a snapshot near the scene of the accident, which clearly shows a limit of 45 mph.

“The driver said it was like a flash, a man just appeared out of nowhere in front of the car,” said Sylvia Moir, passing the driver’s words. “Her first collision alert was the sound of a collision.”

In principle, the published video confirms that in conditions of such poor visibility, the appearance of a cyclist in the headlights was really unexpected. Not the fact that the driver would have time to react if he really watched the road carefully. The only problem is that the driver did not look there.

Now the police are continuing the investigation. Police said on Monday that camera recordings on the Uber car would not be published until its completion. As you can see, the authorities decided to still share information.

“We often post videos of investigations conducted by our department,” Detective Lily Duran commented in an email to The Verge . - The information we provided is all the information that we have at the moment. Uber is aware of the existence of the video and has become familiar with it. ”

Uber has not yet resumed autopilot testing on the road. The company expresses its sympathy to the relatives of the deceased and "in every possible way helps the local, state and federal authorities in carrying out the investigation."

According to the results of the investigation, it is unlikely that Uber will be recognized as the culprit of the accident, but the incident may again raise public debate about the dangers of testing the beta version of the autopilot on public roads. Although people drivers kill hundreds of pedestrians on the roads every day, but it has become so commonplace that no one pays attention to these 1.25 million deaths per year . A completely different matter is the first in the history of the death of a pedestrian from an unmanned vehicle.

Perhaps the police and the Uber company will later publish additional information that will help to understand the actions of the autopilot. For example, it would be interesting to see data from laser lidars.