Uber
Uber

Uber safety driver pleads guilty in fatal self-driving car crash

What To Know

  • The Uber safety driver behind the wheel during the tragic and unprecedented autonomous car accident resulting in the loss of a pedestrian’s life has pleaded guilty to and received sentencing for an endangerment charge.
  • The modified Volvo XC90 in the accident operated at Level 3 autonomy and could be hands-free in specific conditions, but it required the driver to take control at a moment’s notice.
  • Tempe police asserted that Vasquez had been engrossed in a show on Hulu and was not attentive at the time of the crash.
  • The issue of liability has long surrounded autonomous cars—should the human operator be held accountable for a crash, or should the blame fall on the manufacturer.

The Uber safety driver behind the wheel during the tragic and unprecedented autonomous car accident resulting in the loss of a pedestrian’s life has pleaded guilty to and received sentencing for an endangerment charge.

Rafaela Vasquez will be placed on three years of probation for her role in the 2018 Tempe, Arizona collision that claimed Elaine Herzberg’s life as she crossed the street at night. The sentence upholds the demands of the prosecutors and surpasses the defense team’s request for six months.

The prosecution maintained that Vasquez bore ultimate responsibility. Although an autonomous car was involved, Vasquez was expected to focus on the road and intervene if necessary.

The modified Volvo XC90 in the accident operated at Level 3 autonomy and could be hands-free in specific conditions, but it required the driver to take control at a moment’s notice. While it detected Herzberg, it failed to respond to her presence.

The defense’s argument partially blamed Uber. Allegedly leaked conversations suggested that company executives believed a crash was inevitable. Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) collision findings revealed that Uber had deactivated the XC90’s emergency braking system, preventing the vehicle from coming to an abrupt stop.

Tempe police asserted that Vasquez had been engrossed in a show on Hulu and was not attentive at the time of the crash. However, defense attorneys contended that Vasquez was indeed focused and had only experienced a momentary distraction.

The plea and sentencing in this case may set a precedent for how other courts handle similar situations. The issue of liability has long surrounded autonomous cars—should the human operator be held accountable for a crash, or should the blame fall on the manufacturer?

This implies that humans may still face penalties if they can take control, even if the consequences are not as severe as in conventional circumstances.

Uber Fatal accidents involving autonomous technology are not new. Tesla has faced partial blame for collisions while Full Self Driving was active. The pedestrian case, however, remains unique and casts a shadow over more recent Level 4 (fully driverless in limited situations) offerings and tests by Waymo and GM’s Cruise.

Despite technological advancements since 2018, there are still concerns about the safety risks posed by these machines, prompting calls to halt robotaxi rollouts.

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *