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NTSB: Uber Auto-Braking Disabled During Fatal Accident

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May 25, 2018—The Uber self-driving test vehicle that struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March was operating with its automatic braking system disabled, reported Fox Business.

A report published by the National Transportation Safety Board cited Uber in saying that emergency braking is not enabled when a car is under computer control to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior, according to the report.

According to a federal investigation report, at 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system determined that an emergency braking maneuver was needed but the system is not designed to alert the driver.

The operator of the vehicle hit the brakes less than a second after impact, and the vehicle's speed was 39 mph, according to NTSB.

The NTSB’s preliminary report, which by its nature does not contain probable cause, states the pedestrian was dressed in dark clothing, did not look in the direction of the vehicle until just before impact, and crossed the road in a section not directly illuminated by lighting. The pedestrian was pushing a bicycle that did not have side reflectors and the front and rear reflectors, along with the forward headlamp, were perpendicular to the path of the oncoming vehicle. The pedestrian entered the roadway from a brick median, where signs facing toward the roadway warn pedestrians to use a crosswalk, which is located 360 feet north of the Mill Avenue crash site. The report also notes the pedestrian’s post-accident toxicology test results were positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.

In its report the NTSB said Uber equipped the test vehicle with a developmental, self-driving system, consisting of forward- and side-facing cameras, radars, Light Detection and Ranging, navigation sensors and a computing and data storage unit integrated into the vehicle. 

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