The footage here shows the moment an autonomous Uber vehicle struck a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, who later died in hospital from her injuries.
The Uber had a human backup driver, but was driving autonomously when it hit Herzberg—the first time a pedestrian has been killed by a self-driving car.
Released by the Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit, the video (embedded below) shows Herzberg emerging suddenly from an area of complete darkness, on-foot, pushing her bicycle. This gave the human backup driver only a second to react, assuming the video’s shadows accurately reflect the level of darkness a human would perceive. No machine vision data was released with the video, so it’s still unknown what the Uber “saw” with its lidar system, which does not depend on the visible spectrum. The vehicle does not appear to react to Herzberg’s presence. Sound is missing from the video posted by Tempe Police, as is any footage after the moment of the collision, so you can’t tell if brakes were engaged or how the car or the backup human driver reacted during the impact.
Cabin footage shows the human driver alert but focused mostly on the dashboard or something near the center console, looking up and noticing Herzberg only a moment before the impact.
The video establishes that Herzberg carelessly walked into a dark street at night, and that the human backup driver’s attention may have been divided. But it also suggests that the Uber failed to observe and react to the kind of everyday human inattention that we expect autonomous vehicles to navigate.
As posted on Twitter:
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