In Brief

Video footage of Uber crash in US sparks debate over blame

Police in Arizona say the accident was difficult to avoid, but experts disagree

Video footage of the collision between an Uber self-driving car and a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona, has emerged, raising questions over whether the the Volvo SUV could have avoided killing her.

The video, which was released by Tempe city police in Arizona, shows the autonomous vehicle failed to slow down or stop when the pedestrian entered its path on Sunday night. Crucially, the car’s lights failed to light the path of the victim until it was too late.

The victim has been named as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. 

The footage is available below and may be disturbing to some viewers:

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir said: “It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway.” 

But according to Bloomberg, the footage reveals that the driverless car maintained its speed even when the victim was illuminated by the vehicle’s lights. 

This suggests the car failed to detect the pedestrian and that the fatal crash could have been avoided, law professor Bryant Walker Smith told the Associated Press

He said: “The victim did not come out of nowhere. She’s moving on a dark road, but it’s an open road, so Lidar (laser) and radar should have detected and classified her”. He said this was “strongly suggestive” of “multiple failures” of Uber and its automated system.

Uber says it has halted trials of its autonomous cars while authorities examine the onboard footage.

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