Analysis: Uber's Self-Driving Volvo Was At Fault In the Death Of A Pedestrian
A tragic accident this week occurred when a Volvo XC90 modified by Uber to drive autonomously struck and killed a middle-aged woman slowly walking a bicycle across the street. Despite prior reports that indicated the woman appeared "suddenly," she did not. She was in the roadway already as the Uber vehicle approached coming from the left travel lane into the right, in which the Uber vehicle was traveling. If you have not yet seen it, >you can watch dashcam footage of the accident. Note that the actual crash is not shown, but the video gives viewers a clear picture of what took place.
This exact scenario is one which Volvos can foresee and take action to prevent. Volvo's XC90 has technology that can detect pedestrians walking, detect bicyclists, and even detect non-human shapes like moose. As Volvo's video below shows, accidents like this are now preventable not just by having an attentive driver, and the one inside the Uber vehicle acting as a sort of backup, certainly appears not to be attentive, but by using active safety systems with automatic braking.
City Safety, Pedestrian Detection, and other names are given to these systems and they are not just available in pricey Volvos, but in mainstream cars like affordable Mazdas.
Uber is going to have a very hard time explaining why its self-driven vehicles run over slow-moving pedestrians given that unmodified Volvos are designed not to.