It seems like the situation keeps getting worse and worse for Uber. It was tragic when a test autonomous vehicle from the company killed a pedestrian. Then it was revealed that the company had intentionally removed sensors from new car models that created a blind zone around the car. Now however, it has been revealed that the emergency braking feature had been disabled completely.
The report submitted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in March confirms that Uber had emergency braking disabled in the car that killed the middle aged woman, Elaine Herzberg. According to the ride-hailing service, emergency braking isn’t enabled “while the vehicle is under computer control”.
What’s worse is that the LiDAR system employed by Uber to detect obstacles in the vehicle’s path identified Elaine Herzberg six seconds before the collision. That put her 378 feet away judging from the vehicle’s speed at the time of the crash. Around 1.3 seconds before the crash the Uber system decided to employ emergency brakes. But of course, it couldn’t.
Though it was almost certain that self-driving cars would, in the process of testing, reveal flaws and result in the injury and even death of certain people, one would assume it would be due to software errors. This accident only shows that it is still human error and callousness that is causing irreparable loss.