Self-driving Uber saw woman 6 seconds before fatal crash: Probe

The report said the self-driving system determined that emergency braking was needed 1.3 seconds before impact but that by then it was too late.

Published: 24th May 2018 08:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th May 2018 08:58 PM   |  A+A-

Uber (Photo | Reuters)


WASHINGTON: An Uber self-driving car detected a pedestrian six seconds ahead of a fatal Arizona crash that killed the woman but failed to activate emergency braking, a preliminary investigation report said Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said its preliminary report stopped short of assigning blame for the March fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona, adding that any conclusion would come in its updated report.

But the NTSB said Uber's engineers had disabled an automatic emergency braking system "to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior."

The report said the self-driving system determined that emergency braking was needed 1.3 seconds before impact but that by then it was too late.

The person in the driver's seat for emergencies applied the brakes less than a second before impact, unable to avoid the woman.

The NTSB said preliminary reports by their nature do not determine the probable cause of an accident, and that "all aspects of the crash remain under investigation."

- Methamphetamine, marijuana - 

The report said the pedestrian was dressed in dark clothing and was pushing a bicycle that had no side reflectors when she crossed a section of roadway which had no lighting.

Toxicology tests results for the pedestrian "were positive for methamphetamine and marijuana," the report added.

Uber said in a statement it was cooperating with the safety investigation.

"Over the course of the last two months, we've worked closely with the NTSB," an Uber spokesperson said.

"As their investigation continues, we've initiated our own safety review of our self-driving vehicles program. We've also brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.

Uber suspended its autonomous driving testing in several locations in the United States after the accident. 

The ridesharing giant said it hopes to resume testing in California and elsewhere, but indicated this week it would not restart in Arizona.

After the accident, Arizona governor Doug Ducey sent Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi a letter saying he has directed transportation department officials to suspend Uber's testing in the state and said he found the video of the crash "disturbing and alarming."

Thursday's NTSB report said the Uber car's LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) detected the pedestrian "about six seconds before impact, when the vehicle was traveling 43 mph," or 69 kilometers per hour and that the car's software "classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path."

It said Uber's system "is not designed to alert the operator," who is expected "to intervene and take action" in an emergency.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp