The horror story is real: Driverless Uber saw woman, hit her ...

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The horror story is real: Driverless Uber saw woman, hit her anyway

The self-driving car that killed pedestrian thought she was a plastic bag

Matthew Field

A self-driving Uber may have spotted the pedestrian killed in the first fatal crash with a driverless car but ignored her anyway.
The self-driving car that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Phoenix, Arizona in March saw the pedestrian as a “false positive”, causing its on-board system to decide to ignore her rather than swerve to avoid the crash, according to The Information.
The car’s sensors detected the pedestrian, but, according to Uber's internal investigation into the crash, the self-driving car had been tuned to ignore obstacles it didn’t deem a risk.Self-driving cars have been having problems with so-called “false positives” – avoiding small objects that human drivers would normally ignore or drive over.
The car had been programmed to ignore more of these warnings, so that the car can drive over certain obstacles, such as a plastic bag floating in front of it, rather than seeing them as a risk and swerving to avoid them.However, the car’s software was programmed in such a way that it ignored Herzberg crossing the road despite seeing her in with its sensors, causing the deadly crash. The safety driver, who was at the wheel but not driving, had been looking away from the road at the moment of the crash.
“We’re actively co-operating with the National Transportation Safety Board in their investigation. Out of respect for that process and the trust we’ve built with NTSB, we can’t comment on the specifics of the incident,” Uber said.Uber said it had initiated a “top-to-bottom” review of its self-driving car programme following the crash.Uber has since been banned from testing its self-driving cars in Arizona. At the time, experts said they believed the car’s lidar, its laser detection system, should have seen the pedestrian even if the safety driver had no time to react.A full report into the crash from the transport authority and Uber is expected soon.
The ride-hailing company has been battling against Google’s Waymo and Lyft to launch a fully-operational self-driving taxi service, although the deadly incident has raised questions over the rush to get the first driverless cars on the road.
– © The Daily Telegraph

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