Authorities released dash cam footage from a fatal Tempe, Arizona, car crash Sunday night involving an Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode that struck a bike-toting pedestrian.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the video allegedly shows the moments before the automobile failed to slow down and subsequently collided with Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was walking across the street with her bike, directly in the car’s path.
Police released footage from two perspectives. The first, an interior shot, shows the vehicle’s human safety operator, Rafaela Vasquez, 44, looking down and away from the road for several seconds. As she glances up immediately before the accident, a terrified look spreads across her face.
Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigatingthe details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available
Posted by Tempe Police Department on Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Exterior dashcam video shows Herzberg wheeling her bicycle across a four-lane road on foot. Out of respect for the victim, officials decided to cut both video clips before the exact moment of impact.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the Volvo vehicle was in self-driving mode running on experimental software developed by Uber, moving at 40 miles per hour when it struck Herzberg. Local law enforcement does not currently suspect Vasquez of any wrongdoing.
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” said Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir.
Some media outlets have commented that the video seemingly shows Herzberg approaching the roadway several seconds before the crash, and Vasquez clearly not paying attention to the car’s trajectory. It is unclear whether or not this would be considered a dereliction of duties as the operator behind the wheel of an autonomous automobile.
By way of condolences, Uber offered a public statement noting, “The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones.”
Uber—the massively successful ride-hailing technology startup—suspended its North American self-driving testing operations on Monday. Vasquez was engaged in the company’s autonomous vehicle testing program as several tech and auto industry corporations seek to build the first commercially viable self-driving operating system.
Both the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the tragic collision. Self-driving cars have been involved in previous road accidents, but Herzberg’s death is thought to be the first caused by an autonomously-driven vehicle.
[Feature Photo: Video Screenshot/Tempe Police]