New details have emerged regarding the deadly accident involving a self-driving Uber and a woman walking her bicycle across the street in Tempe, Arizona.
According to Automotive News, Uber deactivated the auto-braking feature on its self-driving test cars to prioritize "comfort over safety." The critical safety feature could potentially have prevented the crash, which happened while the driver was watching The Voice on her phone.
3 Anonymous Sources
Automotive News cited anonymous people who had worked on Uber's self-driving prototypes, saying Uber opted out of the automatic braking feature for its 200 test vehicles operating in Tempe, Arizona, the reason being that it wasn't "smooth" enough to please investors and Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.
2 Developed By Uber
Reflex, the feature Uber removed, was developed by Uber and designed to initiate hard braking. Simultaneously, Uber also developed an "action suppression" meant to "delay hard braking by one second to account for the possibility these frequent braking events were false positives."
The Reflex system was supposed to work as a backup to the suppression system but was removed. Uber also deactivated the factory safety systems fitted to the Volvo XC90 involved in the accident.
1 No One Has Been Charged
The NTSB said in its initial reports that the modified Uber Volvo XC90 detected the pedestrian with its lidar and radar sensors six seconds before impact, while the driver was looking down at her phone.
The driver has not yet been charged with a crime and Uber was cleared of criminal misconduct in March. The investigation is still in the hands of the Tempe police.
The National Transportation Safety Board is meeting to discuss the accident today and there will be a Senate Commerce Committee meeting on Wednesday.