Uber disabled emergency brakes on self-driving car prior to fatal crash, NTSB says

A split photo shows the backup driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber car involved in a fatal crash in Arizona.

By Ryan Randazzo | The Republic

The Uber self-driving car detected a woman crossing the road on March 18 six seconds before striking and killing her, but it did not brake or alert the driver, who video showed was not watching the roadway.

Those details were included in an initial report Thursday from the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been investigating the first fatal encounter between an autonomous car and a pedestrian.

Both Uber’s emergency braking as well as the factory-installed emergency-braking system on the Volvo XC90 were disabled, in part to reduce the jerkiness of the ride.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking a bike across Mill Avenue near the Marquee Theatre in Tempe at about 10 p.m. when she was hit. Police said she was not in a crosswalk.


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