Warning: This Article Contains Footage Readers May Find Distressing
Horrifying footage showing the moment a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving Uber has been released by police in Arizona.
The Uber, a self-driving Volvo SUV, had been traveling in autonomous mode at a speed of 38mph in a 35mph zone, and had made no attempt to break. A back-up driver had been inside the vehicle.
Some experts believe the vehicle should have been able to detect the pedestrian using its radar technology, sparking concerns regarding the safety of self-driving vehicles.
The incident took place Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona, at around 10pm. Despite previous multiple accidents, this is reportedly the very first pedestrian death caused by a self-driving car.
DASHCAM VIDEO: Tempe PD has released exterior and interior video of the moments leading up to a self-driving Uber car hitting and killing a woman pushing her bike. That is the car operator in the driver seat. What do you think? #azfamily pic.twitter.com/pa75MH7HVT
— Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) March 21, 2018
The disturbing dash cam footage shows 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg crossing the darkened highway while pushing a bicycle seconds before the fatal collision.
A camera inside the car showed the back up driver staring down at something while the car drove in autonomous mode.
The lights did not shine on Elaine until the very last moment, with the back-up driver looking shocked as the collision takes place. Elaine was left unconscious at the scene of the accident and later died after being taken to hospital.
You can watch the footage for yourself below:
Tempe Police Department shared the video on Facebook the following message:
Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th.
We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available.
Police chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle:
It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,
I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident, either.
[However] I won’t rule out the potential to file charges against the (backup driver) in the Uber vehicle.
This is really new ground we’re venturing into,
— Nicolas Bombourg (@Nbombourg) March 22, 2018
However, University of South Carolina law professor Bryant Walker Smith told The Independent:
The victim did not come out of nowhere. She’s moving on a dark road, but it’s an open road, so Lidar [laser] and radar should have detected and classified her.
This is strongly suggestive of multiple failures of Uber and its system, its automated system, and its safety driver.
Video from the self-driving Uber is awful. The victim definitely did not dart in front of the car as so many people have speculated. And the back-up driver? Looking at a phone up until the car hit the victim.
— Colin Hurley (@colin_hurley) March 22, 2018
Uber’s self-driving programme has been been temporarily suspended following the collision.
In a statement, Uber said:
The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones.
Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have stated they will be investigating this incident. The reason behind the collision is as of yet still unclear.
Anyone see the video of the self driving uber hitting that woman? She jaywalked in the middle of the night. Cant see her until its too late. Dont let this accident slow progress of automated driving!!
— Max McCarthy (@MaxMc24) March 22, 2018
Our thoughts are with the family of Elaine Herzberg.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.