Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking

Guest “don’t you just?” by David Middleton

Before we get to self-driving vehicular manslaughter, don’t you just love futurists?

Sep 13, 2018
Driverless Cars Will Dramatically Change Where And How We Live

Jim Morrison

Driverless cars aren’t coming. They’re already here. Much of he technology has been around for decades and many features are available on new cars today. Experts agree fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be ubiquitous and they will significantly disrupt many industries and change where and how we live. The only questions are: When? And how?

Nearly all of the necessary technology had been developed and was ready to go in the 1990s, according to Jason Schreiber, senior principal at Stantec Urban Places.

“We did get a lot of backbone planning done for connected vehicles,” Schrieber said. “Those protocols exist and there are cities that a ready for them. The technology just wasn’t scalable to the point that it was affordable, until now.”


Consumers will benefit
A 2017 report from RethinkX claims AVs will save the average family $5,600 every year. How? Families won’t pay for cars, insurance, sales tax, excise tax, fuel or repairs. They’ll just pay per trip.

In addition to that, in spite of the public perception that autonomous vehicles will be dangerous, they are widely regarded as much, much safer than cars driven by humans.

There were 40,100 highway deaths in the U.S. last year and the three biggest causes were alcohol, speeding and distracted driving according to the National Safety Council


William F. Lyons Jr., president and CEO of Fort Hill Companies, a Boston-based architecture and infrastructure design firm  said AVs don’t drink or use drugs, speed or get distracted.

“AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths,” Lyons said. “And they’re constantly improving the technology. There is no question they will be safer than human drivers.”



The dude’s name really was Jim Morrison.

“AVs don’t drink or use drugs, speed or get distracted.”

Uber self-driving car involved in fatal crash couldn’t detect jaywalkers
The system had several serious software flaws, the NTSB said.

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
11.06.19 in Transportation

Uber’s self-driving car that struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018 had serious software flaws, including the inability to recognize jaywalkers, according to the NTSB. The US safety agency said that Uber’s software failed to recognize the 49-year-old victim, Elaine Herzberg, as a pedestrian crossing the street. It didn’t calculate that it could potentially collide with her until 1.2 seconds before impact, at which point it was too late to brake.

More surprisingly, the NTSB said Uber’s system design “did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.” On top of that, the car initiated a one second braking delay so that the vehicle could calculate an alternative path or let the safety driver take control. (Uber has since eliminated that function in a software update.)



Sounds like the AV got distracted. AV’s don’t deal with the unexpected very well… And they’re easy prey for aggressive drivers…

Intel Says Aggressive A-Hole Self-Driving Cars Could Help Improve Traffic Safety

by Shane McGlaun — Thursday, May 02, 2019

All drivers have been there before where someone whips in front of you from a merge lane into a gap barely large enough for their car, and you want to scream. Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye think that one way to solve some of the problems that self-driving cars have today is by making them much more aggressive and essentially turning them into a-holes that will shoot into that a small gap in traffic, with a level of precision. One of the challenges for autonomous cars right now is that the AI inside makes them act like your (stereotypical) Grandmother.


Intel wants to cure that nervous behavior using something it calls the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) program. RSS is meant to help the autonomous vehicle act like an assertive human driver. According to Intel, the more assertive autonomous cars will make for safer and more freely-flowing traffic.

The challenge with the AI in self-driving cars today is that they only make decisions when the calculations the vehicles constantly run show crash probability is extremely low. That cautiousness equates to missed opportunities to make turns when a gap presents itself and leads to frustrated passengers. In the RSS system, the AI is deterministic, not probabilistic. Being deterministic gives the autonomous vehicle a playbook of sorts that gives rules defining whats sale and unsafe in a driving situation.

This rulebook will allow the AI inside the vehicle to make more aggressive maneuvers right up to the line that separates safe and unsafe.


Hot Hardware

AI A-hole AV’s… A sort of Skynet Terminator AV?

“Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

[A]utonomous vehicles … are widely regarded as much, much safer than cars driven by humans.

By whom?

“AVs have traveled 130 million vehicle miles during testing with 2 deaths,” Lyons said.


That’s 1.54 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

In 2018, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – a figure that factors out increases or decreases in total driving – was 1.14. That was down from 1.16 in 2017 but tied for the fourth highest of the previous 10 years.

USA Today

1.54 is 35% more than 1.14.

About 1/3 of US traffic fatalities are due to drunk driving. Rather than putting Skynet Terminator AV’s on the road, maybe the better pathway is to put a breathalyzer in every vehicle. AI would save more lives by recognizing drunk drivers before they can start the engine than by failing to recognize jaywalkers because they aren’t supposed to be there.

Maybe the futurists should have paid better attention to Star Trek...

Note on comments

Before anyone comments that the article didn’t say “Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking,” please Google the word “hyperbole” first.

via Watts Up With That?

November 13, 2019 at 04:33AM

One thought on “Self-Driving Uber Killed Pedestrian for Jaywalking”

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