Police have released two videos showing the self-driving Uber car fail to stop as it crashed into victim Elaine Herzberg as she walked across the road with her bike.
The first video shows the exterior view of the Uber, which contains the disturbing footage of the car making contact with Herzberg. The second video shows the Uber safety operator pre-occupied with something off camera before she looks up in shock.
After Elain Herzberg’s death in Arizona, Uber announced that it has suspended its self-driving car program in four cities — Pittsburgh, Tempe, San Francisco, and Toronto — in response, reports NPR.
In a statement, Uber stated the following about the tragic incident.
“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 footage shows that the incident happened at night. Herzberg seems to have been crossing the road from the left while the self-driving Uber car was driving on the right-hand side of the road.
It is unclear why the lidar sensor, which is functional in the dark, failed to detect Elaine, who was casually walking across the road.
The following footage may be disturbing to some viewers.
Self-driving cars are often purported to eliminate human errors, such as the crash in this case. Steven Shladover, a UC Berkeley research engineer, told Wired that this situation should not have been difficult for the self-driving car’s sensors to detect, describing it as “straightforward.”
Shladover theorized that the positioning of the sensors and how the sensors’ data was created or transmitted to the Uber’s software could be contributing factors to the crash.
Some factors that can lead to sensors failing is an object such as a tree or parked car — neither of which was present in the footage leading up to the crash.
The victim had already crossed a lane before coming into contact with the Uber car.
The safety driver at the wheel of the self-driving Uber is Rafaela Vasquez. It is unclear whether the 44-year-old could have reacted in time if she was looking at the road before the moment of impact.
The investigation is ongoing, and it is to be determined if any civil or criminal charges will be filed in Elaine Herzberg’s death.
Self-driving cars have been involved in accidents in the past. However, this case may be the first reported fatality.