Uber vehicle operator appears to be distracted, then gasping in horror seconds before the impact
WASHINGTON: Dashcam footage of the first fatal self-driving car crash involving a pedestrian shows the Uber vehicle operator appearing to be distracted, then gasping in horror seconds before the impact.
The driver can be seen looking down at something for nearly five seconds before finally gazing up the instant before the car hit a woman in Tempe, in the US state of Arizona on Sunday.
Police there released the footage on Wednesday, along with dashcam video of the road in the final seconds before the pedestrian, who was walking with a bicycle, is struck on a poorly lit highway.
At first, from the driver’s seat, only the pedestrian’s feet are visible in the car’s headlights.
About 1.5 seconds elapse from that point until the final frame of the video.
The car was in autonomous mode.
The woman was identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg.
Uber said Monday it had temporarily halted its use of self-driving cars for testing or customer rides in Tempe, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco.
“The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones,” Uber said in a statement. “Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can.”
In releasing the video, police said they were continuing their investigation into the case.
Police chief Sylvia Moir earlier told the San Francisco Chronicle that for the moment “it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault”, mainly because the pedestrian was not using a crosswalk.
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Moir told the Chronicle.