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Just-released video of an autonomous Uber crashing into a pedestrian shows the car’s safety driver looking down seconds before the fatal accident. The footage, provided by the Tempe, Arizona police department, shows the moments leading up to the self-driving car’s collision with 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night.
Viewer discretion is advised. While the footage doesn’t show the collision, it is still disturbing.
Tempe Police didn’t provide video footage of the impact or its aftermath, stopping just before the car hit Herzberg. She was brought to a local hospital, where she died from her injuries. Uber suspended its self-driving car programs around North America after the crash.
Detective Liliana Duran said in an emailed statement that the Tempe Police Department’s Vehicular Crimes Unit is investigating the accident and expects to submit the case for review to the Maricopa County District Attorney.
“The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones,” Uber said in an emailed statement. “Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state, and federal authorities in any way we can.”
Exterior footage shows the car’s view of the collision, as Herzberg walks a bicycle across Mill Ave. in Tempe. She’s only visible on the footage for a few seconds prior to impact. Footage of the car’s interior shows the safety driver looking down just prior to the moment of impact.
The video raises several questions about the accident, including how, if at all, the car’s autonomous driving software reacted to Herzberg’s presence on the roadway. Uber’s cars use lidar to provide 3D scans of the environment around them, and it should function day or night. The cars also use radar arrays and cameras to evaluate their surroundings.
It’s unclear from the footage what the car’s safety driver is looking at.
At this time, the Tempe Police has not determined who was at fault in the accident. In addition to the police’s investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are conducting their own investigations of the incident.
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