First case of an autonomous car killing a pedestrian. Should be interesting to see how this plays out. Really curious to see the circumstances behind the accident and if it was a case of the woman stepping out in front of the car with no chance for the car to avoid her or if it was a case of the car just not seeing her similar to the Tesla that decapitated it’s drive when a white semi turned in front of it and the cameras failed to see the contrast between the white trailer and the sun.
Where it could get REALLY interesting is if the logs show the car did see the pedestrian but the only avoidance option it had would have involved crashing into another car/building/object and the logic tree was coded to protect the occupants of the car over a pedestrian. That coding logic is something my software engineer friends and I have discussed. The age old excuse of, “I didn’t have time to react”, or, “I didn’t swerve into the ditch to avoid her because it happens so fast” goes out the window when it comes to a computer. All those logic trees are programmed ahead of time and in a no-win situation where stopping or safely swerving isn’t an option someone has to either code it to hit the pedestrian or crash the car.
My guess is they will drive right into a pothole because the camera technology isn’t good enough to spot it at speed. Reading on the Tesla forum seems to confirm this. Potholes and big puddles/flooding are a real problem for the current system of autonomous driving.
In a court of law it doesn’t matter because it’s likely the pedestrian who stepped out right in front of the car will likely be ruled at fault. In the court of public opinion, where Uber has already been struggling greatly, this is a PR nightmare when you add in the ex-felon behind the wheel.
Based on the new info that she stepped out at the last minute and the human didn’t have time to react I really hope the logs from the computer get released. With a few milliseconds reaction time there’s a good chance the computer saw the pedestrian and had at least started braking or executing some kind of avoidance routine.
I really expected to see that she ran right out in front of it, stepped out from between parked cars or there were other cars in the area that prevented an avoidance swerve or something. Never expected it would be a straight road with no traffic where she was slowly walking her bike across and it should have been easy for the sensors to see her and brake/swerve. You could say the person didn’t see her because of the range of the headlights but lidar doesn’t rely on the headlights.
The only thing I can think of is that she wasn’t directly in front of the car and standing off to the side. So the system didn’t see her and crossing the vehicles path. Then at the last moment she decided to cross.