Woman Killed in Self-Driving Uber Accident Was Likely Ignored by Car

Submitted by: fancylad 8 months ago in News & Politics Tech


Uber has determined that a fatal accident in Arizona involving one of its self-driving prototypes was likely caused by "a problem with the software that decides how the car should react to objects it detects," sources told the The Information. The car reportedly detected the pedestrian, but decided it didn’t need to brake for her.

That’s likely because the vehicle’s software is tuned to not react to "false positives" -- and one source told the outlet that the "tuning went too far, and the car didn’t react fast enough." The driver behind the wheel of the vehicle -- who is tasked with preventing accidents like the one that killed Elaine Herzberg -- reportedly took his eyes off the road "seconds" before Herzberg was hit at 40 mph. The driver is still employed by Uber, which settled with the family over Herzberg’s death. Source: The Information
There are 39 comments:
Male 965
They ignored each other.

A human driver would maybe expect her to stop in "her" lane, too. That's what I've done, too, while crossing a street. However, sitting at our desk and thinking about it, I guess most of us would realize that too many humans are stupid, and in case of doubt, wouldn't want to hit that i*t.

Also the lights on the car were misaligned and helped to hide the bicycle. Yet everybody seems to be OK driving with bad/broken light, it's seemingly me forcing everybody to go to the next gas station, buy a bulb and change it.

I hope the driver has learned her lesson, and I hope she'll be checked for having quit that habit. Hiring an inexperienced replacement doing the same won't be better.
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Male 701
7eggert "i*t"
What word are you censoring here?
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Male 965
yelloow12 The one originally meaning "a private citizen, one who has no professional  knowledge"
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Male 6,337
i enjoy driving my car. so i dont get it.
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Male 18,342
The interesting thing isn't the software settings. The interesting thing is that it's an experimental technology and that lulls the human backup driver (on whom legal liability rests) into a false sense of security and a lapse of concentration.
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Male 2,799
Well having worked on cars that have early systems for object avoidance when backing I know that it doesn't matter whether its light or dark the car does not use light for its systems, it uses a sonar probably matched with a radar system. But even so the women appeared rather suddenly and it looked more like it was her fault she should not have walked in front of a car at night going 40 miles per hour with or without automated driving. 
  I don't know how far these cars can "see ahead" I hope it's more than the 20 or 30 feet the old backing systems worked. These things need to be high tuned to avoid accidents its better to stop or break for a non threat then to run it over.
  But still when I was a kid things like this were talked about and I was surprised when I read about that Tesler that hit the truck, the driving system was way more sophisticated than I had realized. Cadillac is coming out with one that's supposed to be even better.
 When they start building roads with sensors built in they will become much more reliable.
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Male 70
casaledana I've worked on the solutions (computer vision) for today's generation of autos. The cars can typically "see" (rather, the data is recorded) a couple hundred feet ahead with LIDAR and are pretty good with picking up things in the dark since they use lasers. Uber didn't release the LIDAR info (that car has 2 - 1 on top, 1 in front) or the other radar info, so we don't know exactly what it saw. I don't fault the human driver at all, even if she looked down to check out the instrument panel or whatever (which is likely what she was doing). Distance-wise, if she was doing ~40mph, the car would have hit her no matter what based on what I saw diagrammed (rough estimates are ~1.5s-3.5s for a human to react and fully depress the brake). It was pretty much a worst case scenario - it doesn't make it any easier for the family and is a tragedy, but the woman was walking across in the worst spot possible for human drivers.
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Male 46,107
The program wrongly thought it was Sqrlz4 crossing the road.
Better luck  next time.
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Female 6,822
It obviously determined that she was genetically inferior to the other humans and decided to cleanse the gene pool a little.  I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.
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Male 965
melcervini The robot overlords acknowledge your subordination and have no doubt on your loyalty.
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Male 4,069
Doing stupid things often get's folks killed; Like wearing dark clothing at night and crossing streets where one shouldn't.
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Male 1,217
One way to look at it is how many fatalities per million miles traveled by autonomous vehicles vs. human drivers. I'm guessing here, but I would say self driving cars are still safer even at this early stage.
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Male 7,525
mrteatime That's my general thought.  Self driving cars do not have to be perfect, they just have to be better than us and that is not hard by a long shot.
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Male 1,124
I would like to see the NHTSA impose a moratorium on self driving cars. This was negligence of the highest order and should be 100% unacceptable regardless of whatever settlement was reached in private.  But hey, federal agencies in the age of trump. 
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Male 46,107
Well, she was jay walking and wearing dark colours.  Doesn't anyone remember 
what they taught us in school?
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Male 724
the murder car is free.Innocent people are in jail.Ahhh, the trump years......
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Male 2,320
zeegrr Shut up. What the fuck are you talking about?
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Male 13,505
Yeah i said this back when it happened, cheap programming.  or the safety driver who was texting, not took her eyes off the road just before , but clearly texting.

self-driving cars and safety are a long way away yet.


Uber should be fined, as this was clearly an oversight due to greed and the race to just get it done.  Wouldn't surprise me if an employee asked "Do you want it done, or do you want it done right?" and some manager said "just get it done"
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Male 2,320
monkwarrior You're a tool bag. You don't even know if it was possible to stop this accident even with human error. Have you ever studied computer science, mathematics, biology or anything of this sort? No? Then shut the fuck up.
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Male 192
SPrinkZ  if look up the video the crash could've been avoided if the driver had been looking, they looked away before the car got to a dark spot between some streetlights, also the person hit could've looked up once seen the headlights from the car from quite a while and avoided it assuming she wasn't on drugs (has a couple drug related charges)
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Male 13,505
SPrinkZ It's quite possible to stop this kind of accident.  Firstly if the driver isn't texting and driving that ups the chance of someone not dying significantly.  Secondly if the software was programmed properly it would have stopped even after the biker was visible instead of plowing right through her.

Let me guess though, you saw the dark dash-cam video and thought it was actually that dark out?  lol you're pretty stupid if that's the case.  I actually own a dash cam, and things caught on camera are much darker than it appears to someone who has their eyes affixed on the road, not half blinded from look-down-look-up-look-down-look-up of their handheld device.

Maybe you're a little sympathetic or biased towards uber hmm?  They still should be fined heavily for carelessness of programming causing death, as well as the driver losing their license for texting and driving.
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Male 6,337
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Male 13,505
rumham hashtag
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Male 122
i dislike that uber settled since the true main fault was the person jaywalking.  yes the software needs to be improve.  yes the driver missed the a person jaywalking.  but the jaywalker was relying on the driver to not hit her.  personally i would have stopped then chased down the jaywalker and had words.  
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Male 13,505
slicerdicer the main fault was the software programming, didn't you see the video, it didn't even slow down when it was registerable by humans who watched the video, just kept plugging on "gotta make m'fare". Also the texter and driver was at fault.  The pedestrian may have shared some of the blame, but paid the ultimate price for the two other flaws.
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Male 122
monkwarrior no the main fault was the jaywalker regardless of the software fault.  jaywalking is illegal in most cities.  Las vegas strictly enforces jaywalking. other cities do not.  

i guess she can be thanked because she exposed a programming fault.
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Male 13,505
slicerdicer the jaywallker shared some fault as i pointed out.  Yet the 2 main faults were the poor software and the texter and driver.  It's quite clear.
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Male 965
monkwarrior I saw the video and counted the frames from "sneakers are guessable" to the crash. I even enhanced the screenshots in gimp. I don't remember the numbers, but it wasn't much and definitely less than required to prevent the accident, even if the brakes were slammed on the first frame showing the sneakers.

(Also I analyzed videos of humans reacting to unexpected events. It's about 2 seconds. Hitting a random button on a wall with your hand can be done in 1.4 seconds average by the winners of a game show, others were slower. triggering a prepared movement can be done faster: The reaction times of the best fast draw shooters is 0.145 seconds).

At the non-crossing, there is a walkway to the street and a sign not to cross there. You can expect about any human to ignore the sign. Designed to invite people to get killed.
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Male 13,505
7eggert The video is horrible to go by.  If their programming was going by the video they definitely should be fined.
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Male 2,194
GEEZ, that video just about gave me a heart attack!!! She really looks like she's walking out of thin air.

The car def should have at least slammed on the brakes or swerved a bit before impact.
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Male 13,505
bliznik any dash-cam owner will tell you 'what's on the camera is darker than what actually happened'
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Male 6,337
monkwarrior thats what your mom said
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Male 13,505
rumham if i were you i would focus my energies on synthing
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Male 6,337
monkwarrior you should focus on uncovering the lies surrounding 9/11
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Male 13,505
rumham a lot of them have.  the primary issue now is a re-investigation.
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Male 7,525
I do not think most people could stop in time to prevent that accident.
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Male 13,505
daegog they can when they're not texting and driving.  texting and driving though, you'd be right.
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Male 10,234
daegog The main point is the computer did not even try.

I've pointed this out before.  The sheer number of lines of code required is ridiculous.  Much more complicated than a planes autopilot.  

An aircraft is dealing with simple, empty 3-d space and all it has to notice is: Up, Down, Left, Right, altitude, Speed and the occasional "Hey look, a mountain".

But a car's work area is much more complicated (You don't have too many pedestrians at 45,000 feet).  The car can say 'Hey, Cow in the road. Need to Stop.'.  Or "Hey, old lady in the road. Need to stop."

But, when it sees a old lady walking a cow across the road, it may not recognize it as anything and go 'no need to stop.'.


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Male 9,631
daegog No, I couldn't.  But then I'm not a very expensive robot. 
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