Stories

Self-driving Uber saw pedestrian before fatal strike, but didn't brake

Pedestrian on bike seen crossing the road before the fatal strike
Pedestrian seen crossing the road before fatal strike. Screenshot frorm video released by the Tempe Police Department.

Federal investigators said Thursday that the self-driving Uber SUV that struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March saw the woman six seconds before colliding with her, but the car failed to stop because the emergency brake was disabled, reports the AP.

What they're saying: The National Transportation Safety Board stated that Uber engineers had intentionally disabled the Volvo's emergency braking system while the car was operating autonomously, because it lessens the "potential for erratic vehicle behavior." Instead, Uber relies on the human backup driver to take over, but "the system is not designed to alert the operator," NTSB added. The system noticed the woman 6 seconds before the car struck her and would have needed only 1.3 seconds to stop in time, the report says (The timing in this sentence has been corrected from earlier versions.)