A self-driving Uber car that struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018 reportedly had serious software flaws including the inability to recognize jaywalkers, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Engadget reports that the NTSB has claimed in a recent report that a self-driving Uber car that hit and killed a pedestrian in March 2018 had serious software flaws, and was unable to recognize jaywalkers. The NTSB stated that Uber’s software failed the 49-year-old victim in the crash, Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the street. The self-driving vehicle reportedly failed to calculate that it could collide with her until 1.2 seconds before impact.
The NTSB stated that Uber’s system design “did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” The vehicle also initiated a one-second braking delay to allow the vehicle to calculate an alternative path or let the safety driver take control, this function has since been eliminated in a software update.
The report states: “Although the [system] detected the pedestrian nearly six seconds before impact … it never classified her as a pedestrian, because she was crossing at a location without a crosswalk [and] the system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.”
The report also alleges that Uber’s self-driving vehicles may have failed to identify roadway hazards in two other cases. In one case, a vehicle struck a bicycle lane post that was bent into the roadway, in another case a safety driver had to take control of the vehicle to avoid an oncoming car and collided with a parked car. In the seven months leading up to the fatal crash, Uber vehicles were involved in 37 accidents.
Uber used revised software when testing in December 2018 and did a simulation of the new system using sensor data obtained from the fatal Arizona crash. It was determined that the vehicle would have detected the pedestrian 289 feet before impact and had four seconds to brake before impact while moving at 43.2 mph. The NTSB will be meeting on November 19 to determine the cause of the accident that occurred in Arizona in March of 2018. Uber has already been absolved of criminal liability by prosecutors but criminal charges against the driver are still being weighed.