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Friday, March 23, 2018

Uber's fatal driverless car crash could've been avoided, say autonomous vehicle experts - CNET


"...Cortica, a technology company that develops autonomous artificial intelligence, analyzed the video and provided its evaluation exclusively to CNET. Its system detected Herzberg at 0.9 second before impact when the car was about 50 feet away. Cortica's CEO, Igal Raichelgauz, said that would have been enough time for an autonomous vehicle to react and save Herzberg's life.

"The advantage of machine response time and control, the right actions could be made to certainly mitigate the damage," Raichelgauz said.

Tempe police say the car didn't slow down or swerve as Herzberg appeared on the road. It hit her traveling at 38 mph.

"The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine's loved ones," an Uber spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can."

A work in progress

Driverless cars are equipped with a system of cameras, radar and lidar sensors that allow them to "see" their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists and other obstacles. If confronted with a pedestrian, self-driving cars are supposed to stop. These sensors are said to work as well at night as in daylight.

"Although this video isn't the full picture, it strongly suggests a failure by Uber's automated driving system," said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies autonomous vehicles. "The victim is obscured by darkness -- but she is moving on an open road. Lidar and radar absolutely should have detected her and classified her as something other than a stationary object."

For the most part, testing of autonomous technology has shown driverless cars to be safe. But it's still a work in progress. The vast majority of vehicle tests haven't been done on public roads, and the cars are still learning how to drive.

"Driving a car can seem like a rote process, but it is not," said Timothy Carone, a driverless car expert and associate teaching professor at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "We make complex decisions and value judgments continually when we are behind the wheel."

As autonomous systems mature and become more capable of handling unusual situations, they'll get better at making those complex decisions, Carone said. But, he added, that could take years.

"As our society transitions to using more systems like driverless cars, pilotless airplanes, driverless trucks and trains, and weapons, the accidents will continue happening," Carone said." 

Uber's fatal driverless car crash could've been avoided, say autonomous vehicle experts - CNET

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