Feds Accuse Distracted Test Driver in Uber Self-driving Fatal Accident
A federal investigation into an Uber self-driving fatal accident decided the probable cause was a phone distraction. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation said that an inadequate safety culture at Uber was the reason for the accident that happened in March 2018 in Tempe, Arizona.
The board meeting of investigators took place in Washington, DC, on Tuesday. They described the accident as avoidable; they found that an alert vehicle operator had about four seconds to notice the pedestrian who was crossing the street when the Uber self-driving vehicle struck her.
The test driver behind the wheel of the self-driving car was supposed to take control in case the autonomous driving software failed. The driver was not paying attention to the road; the camera in the car recorded that the test driver was looking away from the road for 34% of the time (23 glances before the fatal accident).
The NTSB found that Uber took the self-driving test without a safety plan. There was no equivalent guiding document when the accident occurred. Uber’s self-driving software was not designed to expect pedestrians on the crosswalks.
Jennifer Homendy, an NTSB board member, said that it was a “major failing” of the federal government to control the testing of self-driving vehicles.
Uber expressed deep regret and sadness in their statement, stating that they are continuing to improve the safety of their self-driving vehicle program. The company settled the case with the victim’s family shortly after the accident.
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