top of page

Self-Driving Uber Car Hits and Kills Woman

The big question from such an occurrence would be as follows: why did this happen? How?

The major consensus from Uber’s end of the misfortune was that Elaine Herzberg, the woman who was killed, was jaywalking and the autonomous vehicle did not have experience, or even knowledge of jaywalking’s existence. Elaine, 49, died after she was hit by a Volvo SUV which was traveling at about 40 mph in autonomous mode under the supervision of an operator in Tempe, Arizona.

According to the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), the accident was a result of the

automated Uber not embodying "the capability to classify an object as a pedestrian unless that object was near a crosswalk." Due to the car not being able to recognize Herzberg as a

pedestrian, accounting her as vehicle and bicycle at times, it could not predict her path and

concluded that it needed to brake just 1.3 seconds before it struck her concluded that it needed to brake just 1.3 seconds before it struck her.

Uber informed the NTSB that it "has since modified its programming to include jaywalkers

among its recognized objects," but other concerns were also expressed in NTSB's report. Uber disabled the emergency braking system, relying on the driver to stop in this situation. However, the system was not optimized to alert the operator, who intervened in less than a second before impact.

The operator had been in the vehicle alone—a recent update in Uber’s AV procedures.

According to a police report, the safety driver had her eyes off the road prior to the incident,

streaming the television show “The Voice.” The NTSB additionally stated that Uber's Advanced Technologies Group had a technical system safety team in place but failed to implement an operational safety division or safety manager. The company also did not compose a formal safety plan, guiding document for safety or an SOP.

From September 2016 to March 2018, Uber's prototypes were involved in an accumulated 37

crashes while under autonomous capabilities. Only two of the 37 crashes were the result of a

car's failure to identify a roadway hazard.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page