The backup driver of a self-driving Uber test car that ran over a pedestrian in the United States in 2018 has been charged with negligent homicide. The woman died while crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona and was hit by a prototype.
According to the police report, the accident was "completely avoidable" because the defendant looked down at the screen of his cell phone several times at the time of the collision instead of looking at the street. The trial is scheduled to begin in February 2021. At the hearing on Tuesday, the defendant pleaded "innocent". In interrogations, he had denied having looked at the phone. According to the prosecutor, Uber was not liable for the accident, the prosecutor said in March 2019. The US Transportation Safety Authority came to the conclusion that software errors had resulted in the woman not being identified as a pedestrian by the self-driving Volvo when she was pushing a bicycle across a street.
The automatic emergency braking system of the Volvo was deactivated in the test. Instead, Uber relied on the human backup driver. The agency also found that doing so increased Uber's risks when testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, with the 49-year-old dying in the first fatal accident caused by a self-driving car. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey then banned Uber from continuing testing in the state.
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