Tempe, Arizona, Police Chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that “it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how” Elaine Herzberg, 49, stepped of a center median into the roadway Sunday night in front of a self-driving Uber, a Volvo SUV.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating this first pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car.
NTSB investigators in Tempe, Arizona, examine the Uber vehicle involved in Sunday’s fatal accident. pic.twitter.com/Zoj4GrnxCT
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) March 20, 2018
The Phoenix region is hosting many self driving car tests, including Waymo, and there was a back-up driver in the Uber vehicle at the time of the collision.
The NTSB arrived yesterday in Tempe and released the following update:
The investigation will address the operating condition of the vehicle, driver interaction with the vehicle and opportunities for the vehicle or driver to detect of the pedestrian. Developments on Tuesday include:
- Meeting with representatives of Uber, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Tempe Police Department
- Beginning examination of the accident vehicle, a Volvo XC90
- Beginning examination of the accident site
- Viewing a copy of a video that captured the crash from an aftermarket dash camera mounted in the test vehicle
- Gathering information about the technology on the test vehicle
- Collecting information about the pedestrian and the safety driver
- Beginning collection of any and all electronic data stored on the test vehicle or transmitted to Uber
The NTSB investigative team will be in the Tempe area for the remainder of the week.
NTSB also noted in its update that any findings or determination of probable cause of the crash will come only after the investigation and analysis are completed.
Moir said she “won’t rule out the potential to file charges against the (backup driver) in the Uber vehicle.”
Read our previous coverage on risks associated with self driving cars: