Just over eight months after an autonomous test vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber wants to continue testing on public roads.
The company has applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a trial in Pittsburgh and issued a detailed safety report promising to put two human replacement drivers in each vehicle and to take a number of other precautions to keep the vehicles safe.
Company officials admit that after the March 18 crash in Tempe, Arizona, in which Elaine Herzberg, 49, was killed, she must come a long way to restore public trust when she sees a dark street outside Crossing pedestrian crossing.
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An Uber SUV after meeting a woman in Tempe, Ariz, on March 18, 2018. Just over eight months after one of his autonomous test vehicles shot dead a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber wants to continue testing on public roads.
The police said Uber's backup driver in the Volvo SUV had streamed the television program "The Voice" on her phone and looked down from the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the Volvo's autonomous driving system had detected Herzberg about six seconds before the impact, but did not stop because the system, which automatically brakes in potentially dangerous situations, has been disabled.
A Volvo emergency braking system was also switched off.
"Our goal is to really work to regain that trust and help drive the industry forward," said Noah Zych, Uber's Systems Safety Director for self-driving cars, in an interview.
"We believe the right thing is to be open and transparent about what we do."
Among the other precautions Uber will take, the autonomous vehicle system will always be on and Volvo's automatic emergency braking system will be activated as a backup.
In addition, Uber needs more technical training and expertise for the people behind the wheel of the vehicles, calling them mission specialists. This emerges from a 70-page safety report released by the company on Friday.
The report was released after the hail-based company closed its autonomous vehicle tests to conduct an internal review of its safety procedures and an external review by risk management company LeClairRyan.
Investigators of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the self-propelled Uber vehicle involved in the fatal accident in Tempe
Uber said new guidelines for Pennsylvania autonomous vehicles prohibit testing of autonomous vehicles without human fuses. Google's Waymo already carries passengers without human drivers, and General Motors' cruise automation expects this to happen next year.
News had been left on Friday to receive comments from Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
HOW HAS A WOMAN IN ARIZONA KILL AND KILL A WOMAN ON AUTONOMIC VEHICLE?
A self-propelled Uber vehicle struck a pedestrian on 19 March 2018 in the first death of a fully autonomous test vehicle.
The accident prompted Hagel to stop testing such cars in the US and Canada.
The Volvo SUV was in a self-driving mode. In Tempe, behind the wheel, was a human roadside driver when a woman was hit while riding a bicycle.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in the hospital.
The police said the victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, suddenly stepped in front of the car and did not believe the car was to blame.
Uber hired the self-drive test in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
Testing has been going on for months as car manufacturers and technology companies strive to be the first to work alone.
The self-driving car crash of Uber, which led to the death of a mother twice, could have been avoided, have claimed driverless vehicle experts.
Cortica, a company developing artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, has analyzed the dash cam video.
The company concludes that the car, which neither braked nor decelerated before the collision, had time to react and possibly save Ms. Herzberg's life.
Speaking to CNET, Cortica CEO Igal Raichelgauz said that the company's self-driving AI system had detected Ms. Herzberg 0.9 seconds before the impact.
At this point, the car was about 15 meters away.
He said the autonomous car's cameras and radar system had enough time to pick up the pedestrian and respond to the situation.
Driverless vehicles are equipped with a system of cameras, radar and lidar sensors that allow them to "see" their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians and other objects.
An AI computer system then decides what action the car takes to avoid a collision – a setup that should work both at night and at night.
A senior Lidar sensor manufacturer who used Uber's self-driving car said she was "taken aback" as to why the vehicle did not recognize Ms. Herzberg.
The company said it is focusing on restarting tests in Pittsburgh, where there is a development center for autonomous vehicles. Later it will discuss the readmission in Arizona, California, and Toronto, Ontario, the other test sites.
Arizona suspended the company's permission to test after the crash.
Herzberg's death was the first to use a fully autonomous vehicle, raising the question of the safety of computer-controlled cars built by Uber and dozens of other companies, including the Google spin-off Waymo.
Uber took the first step towards resuming tests in Pittsburgh in July, when vehicles with safety modifications and additional driver training were put on the road.
But the cars were not free of human control and did not respond to calls called by the passengers.
"We are in contact with the city, with the officials, and I am very interested in making sure that we return by self-drive in consultation and in close partnership with them," said Miriam Chaum, Uber Public Order Manager for self-propelled vehicles.
The company also promised in its reports that it would reduce the time lag between the detection of a person or object by its autonomous vehicle sensors and the intervention of the computer system.
Uber said it has improved the performance of its system so that it can better predict what a person, vehicle or other object will do as the autonomous vehicle approaches.
"We are now able to identify objects and actors faster and execute safer responses faster," the company said in a report.
In the seconds before the collision, one sees the safety driver Vasquez, who has to take control of the car in case of problems, looking down and to the side
In another frame, driver Rafaela Vasquez is seen behind the wheel while the car is driving alone
Backup drivers are now being questioned about their security attitudes. They are also monitored by a camera in real time to make sure they are alert, Zych said. The company has done a great deal of work to ensure that Volvo's braking system works simultaneously with the Uber self-propelled system.
Although Uber has announced a partnership with Toyota to develop autonomous vehicles, only Uber's system in Pittsburgh would be active, Zych said.
The company wants to continue the tests in a "responsible manner" and does not currently deal with the carriage of passengers with autonomous vehicles. If approved, the company would start slowly with a small number of vehicles in Pittsburgh, Zych said.
The bike was loaded with shopping bags containing the woman's belongings
It is clear from the reports that Uber continued to work on moving vehicles even though the test was suspended. The suspension, however, has cost the company's critical test phase, which rivals Waymo and Cruise Automation have been able to gather over the past eight months.
In the Tempe crash, the police wrote in a report that the driver Rafaela Vasquez had the musical talent show in the 43 minutes before Herzberg's death on Hulu streamed. The report said the crash would not have happened if the driver had not been distracted.
According to a 19 March affidavit, police in Tempe filed a vehicle killing charge for a search warrant for audio, video and data stored in the Uber SUV. A prosecutor does not have to make a decision in this case.