Police officials of Tempe, Arizona have released the video of the horrific accident involving Uber's self-driving car that fatally knocked down a pedestrian on March 18.
Whose fault is it anyway -- the pedestrian or the backup driver or the autopilot feature?
As of now, there is no official word on whose fault it is as the investigation is still underway.
But, some are blaming Rafaela Vasquez, the backup driver for not paying proper attention to the road ahead and while others blame it on Elaine Herzberg, the pedestrian for being unmindful about the incoming traffic.
In the internal view video from the car, seconds before the incident, Vasquez is seen looking down, maybe a smartphone, as we can see her making some facial expression, probably reading texts and within few seconds she looks up and screams, that's probably when Herberg gets knocked down by the car.
In the external view video, due to the bad light conditions in the evening, Herzberg is seen only a few seconds before the accident, which apparently is the reason why Vasquez failed to notice the victim from a longer distance.
Vasquez can't be blamed wholly for the accident, as the car was on the autonomous mode, meaning she just had to be on the driver's seat, take customer calls and reroute the car to pick them up. Even Uber may get off the hook, as Herzberg was not crossing the road at the dedicated crosswalk near the traffic junction.
Having seen the video, it appears that Uber's self-driving car lacked proper radar system. Most of the semi-automatic cars including Elon Musk's Tesla branded Model X and S series, which are already on the roads, come with advanced cameras integrated with state-of-the-art radar system, which are designed to notice even a minor obstruction from a far distance and signal the backup driver to take appropriate steps or take control of the vehicle to put the brakes on.
There are also systems in place in semi-autonomous cars to alert the driver, even if he/she dozes off while driving and goes off the track. It has to be noted that a Tesla Model S car had met with an accident in May 2016 in which the driver was killed, despite being on autopilot mode. However, the investigation by NHTSA revealed the car crash had no anomalies. Apparently, the driver was too reliant on the autopilot and lacked full knowledge of its limitations. Furthermore, two minutes prior to the accident, he had set the cruise mode speed to 74 miles per hour, against the statutory 65 miles per hour limit on that particular stretch of the highway.
Despite making strides in autopilot mode by vehicle companies, all semi-autonomous car owners are advised to be on alert while driving.
Uber's self-driving car crash story recap:
On March 18 evening, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was crossing the street with a bicycle on her side when she was hit by the self-driving car. The car had a backup driver, Rafaela Vasquez, on board.
It is the first such instance of an autonomous car killing a pedestrian to date. Taking note of the severity of the situation, Uber has suspended its self-driving car services in four cities -- San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Toronto.
"The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine's loved ones," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.
"Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can," the spokesperson added.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (US NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have joined probe with the Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit, which has in possession the external and internal view videos captured from the vehicle's dashboard cameras.
This is a developing story.
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