Uber Self-Driving AI That Killed a Woman Was Programmed to Ignore Jaywalkers: Report

Tech and Telecom

According to new documentation published as part of a federal investigation, the program inside Uber’s self-driving car that killed an Arizona woman last year wasn’t devised to identify people outside of a crosswalk. This isn’t the only damning revelation in the newly published documents.

The documents were posted by the National Transportation Safety Board; an autonomous government safety panel that usually investigates airplane crashes and large truck incidents. It will publish its final report on the incident in two weeks, after a 20-month long investigation.

The incident took place last year in March, when 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez was in the driver seat of the Uber testing car as it collided and killed Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year-old woman as she crossed a darkened road in the city of Tempe, Arizona.

During that time, a sole driver observed the prototype car’s function and software as it drove around Arizona. “The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians,” the NTSB’s Vehicle Automation Report reads.

The new information shows that multiple mistakes were due to the internal structure at Uber, what experts term “safety culture.”  These mistakes include the fact that the self-driving program didn’t include an operational safety division or safety manager.

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