Driverless Vehicle Makers Reach Feared Crossroad with Uber Fatality

By , Mark Bergen and | March 20, 2018

  • March 20, 2018 at 5:30 am
    Jimbo says:
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    Don’t walk outside of the crosswalk or you will be run over.

  • March 20, 2018 at 7:56 am
    David says:
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    In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.6 hours.
    Driverless cars still seem far safer then cars driven by people…

    • March 20, 2018 at 9:36 am
      NC P&C Agent says:
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      I’d be interested to see (eventual) statistics on the number of people *saved* by autonomous cars. It’s too early for that but I think more will benefit than will be hurt.

      • March 20, 2018 at 3:18 pm
        R says:
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        This is the eternal question / problem for insurance loss control. How many accidents/injuries/fatalities did the unit prevent last week / month / year and what is the reduction in claims expense vs the cost of the service?
        This is similar to asking how many collisions were prevented by traffic lights today?
        Statistics, best guess, probabilities, estimates, never a hard answer.

        • March 27, 2018 at 12:20 pm
          Agent says:
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          Better question. How many autonomous cars are on the road now compared to regular cars and how many miles do they drive compared to the 200 million + cars on the road?

    • March 20, 2018 at 9:52 am
      Mr. Solvent says:
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      That’s not the problem. Human error is predictable, computer error generally is not. Ever have Windows crash on you?

      • March 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm
        SWFL Agent says:
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        Not sure about that. Error or failure rates in machinery is much more predictable that human behavior. In fact most of the negative posts have centered around the fact that the driverless vehicles can’t account for the unpredictability of an encounter caused by human behavior. Let’s face, if citizens are against the idea of driverless vehicles it’s not because we think death rates will ultimately be higher. There’s something deeper to the resentment.

        • March 20, 2018 at 4:09 pm
          Mr. Solvent says:
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          In a fluid environment with multiple variables I have to disagree with you. It’s very easy when you’re talking about equipment on an assembly line.

          • March 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm
            Agent says:
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            How many people died as the result of GM’s faulty ignition switch? How about the Takata air bag? Faulty sensors in Tesla that caused it to rear end an 18 wheeler?

    • March 20, 2018 at 9:59 am
      DNCs Coll(F)usion GPShip Strzok an IceberGowdy says:
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      Seem. What is the mix, percentage-wise of autonomous cars and human controlled cars? How many of each?
      I want to walk my Doberman Pincer on public sidewalks, unleashed. I just got him from the kennel. He’s about 3 years old. Is that OK with you?

      • March 20, 2018 at 1:38 pm
        Jack Kanauph says:
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        DNC, depends on where you live.

      • March 20, 2018 at 3:32 pm
        Agent says:
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        DNC’s, the article mentioned this incident may set the AV industry back, perhaps decades. That sounds like a great idea. Obviously, there are a lot of issues with sensors failing.

        • March 21, 2018 at 10:06 am
          DNCs Coll(F)usion GPShip Strzok an IceberGowdy says:
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          If the AV industry can’t get their act together, no AVs should threaten pedestrians or other vehicles. AVs are as dangerous as guns in the ‘hands’ of the wrong operators. Perhaps more so…. more people are at risk on highways, street crossings, and sidewalks than are at risk of gun violence.

        • March 21, 2018 at 10:45 pm
          Captain Planet says:
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          Agent, you commented before on the pedestrians high on weed. Or cell phoning. Or cell phoning high on weed. Think this one could have just been scromiting all over the road, too? Or, because autonomous technology was involved, marijuana doesn’t come into play here? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • March 22, 2018 at 9:44 am
            DNCs Coll(F)usion GPShip Strzok an IceberGowdy says:
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            Warning! Rabbit hole ahead!

    • March 20, 2018 at 1:36 pm
      Jack Kanauph says:
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      David, to make it your point, you have to make a relation between accidents involving driverless cars to all driverless cars on the road, VS. the 5,376 deaths related to how many cars there are on the road. My guess is cars with drivers are performing better when discussing road kills.

    • March 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm
      UW says:
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      In the US there are about 12.5 deaths per billion miles driven by normal cars. With self-driving cars, based on numbers put out by Uber at the end of 2017 in a Forbes article, the numbers are now about 333 deaths per billion miles driven by self-driving cars. These cars also drive under far better scenarios, mostly in the safest conditions unlike the total numbers which include heavy urban miles, bad weather, etc.

      These things can probably be made safer one day but it’s stupid to spend public money on it that could go to better uses. Even if safe they won’t ever work as advertised, there are too many things to compute and too many little rules or unwritten rules they need to figure out.

      In this case it’s very unlikely a person would have avoided the crash, but apparently the LIDAR does not seem to work at all in the dark. These are a long way from being operational or safe,and won’t ever work as promoted. It’s vaporware.

  • March 20, 2018 at 1:28 pm
    Barry Rabkin says:
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    Excellent comment: “Human drivers rarely face criminal charges for accidents like the one on Monday, but the involvement of an autonomous vehicle is new territory, according to Chris Zachar, a partner at Zachar Law Firm, a personal-injury firm based in Phoenix. “There’s never been an incident like this before in Arizona,” he said. A spokeswoman for the Tempe Police Department did not respond to request for comment as to whether any charges have been filed. According to the police, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking outside of a crosswalk at the time she was struck by the Uber vehicle. Arizona state law requires that pedestrians yield to right-of-way vehicles when not using crosswalks. However, this distinction may not matter in this case, Zachar said. “If the radars on these vehicles are as good as they claim to be, why do you need the presence of a crosswalk?” ” Yes, indeed, why do the AVs need to presence of a crosswalk?!!!!

    • March 20, 2018 at 1:58 pm
      SWFL Agent says:
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      Still not enough facts to determine liability. Did she step in front of the vehicle or did she not? Did the vehicle swerve and hit her on the side of the road? Surely AV’s have passed many, many pedestrians and cyclists without incident. What was different about this incident?

      • March 20, 2018 at 5:22 pm
        Captain Planet says:
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        Chief of Police Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that video footage taken from cameras equipped to the autonomous Volvo SUV potentially shift the blame to the victim herself, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, rather than the vehicle.

        “It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode [autonomous or human-driven] based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Moir told the paper, adding that the incident occurred roughly 100 yards from a crosswalk. “It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated managed crosswalks are available,” she said.

        Though the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode, a driver was present in the front seat. But Moir said there appears to be little he could have done to intervene before the crash.

        “The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,” Moir said. “His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.”

        • March 21, 2018 at 10:10 am
          DNCs Coll(F)usion GPShip Strzok an IceberGowdy says:
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          ‘potentially shift’ is distinct from ‘shifts’. I’ll pass judgement after the investigation concludes. Now, it seems an AV hasn’t behaved as hoped/ desired. I’ll ask for clarity on the DRIVERS’ actions immediately before the pedestrian was struck to make a final judgement.

  • March 20, 2018 at 4:16 pm
    Hmmmmmmm says:
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    Those vehicles carry 360 degree cameras that are always on when the car is on. Soon everyone should know more

  • March 21, 2018 at 1:43 pm
    Chris says:
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    Recently a young teenager was hit by a car, luckily not seriously injured, in front of a local high school. My daughter was FURIOUS at the driver. I asked “was she on the crosswalk? was she in a school zone?” No to each, she was jaywalking, just stepped off the curb, not at the corner. She assumed the car would stop for her, she assumed wrong. People need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

    • March 22, 2018 at 9:50 am
      DNCs Coll(F)usion GPShip Strzok an IceberGowdy says:
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      Pedestrians have the right of way in major cities, and nearly all other municipalities… in crossing zones only. This is an unknown rule that some who live in big cities know, but others don’t. I’ve seen ‘Big City Cats’ walk out into traffic in their visits to my town, and exclaim their surprise that drivers didn’t yield the right of way. The issue is confounded by cross walks and jaywalking. No one in a cross walk should assume they are safe. No one should cross elsewhere without having a clear path across the road. Learn the laws AND local customs!

  • March 23, 2018 at 9:06 am
    Captain Planet says:
  • March 26, 2018 at 10:44 am
    Richard says:
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    What is perhaps perplexing is that the sensor suites on various driverless systems use detection systems that do not rely on visible light anyway. Given that lidar, radar and thermal technologies are being explored could this have happened in broad daylight? Also, can these systems “see” a crosswalk or do they rely on GPS mapping? In the rush to publicize the new technological marvel, and to compel us to trust them, are we expecting too much – too soon? I also agree that in addition to remarkable changes to liability and insurance, this tech will create new criminal law issues as well.



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