Video released by Tempe, Ariz. police graphically show both an autonomous Uber SUV and its backup driver failed to protect a pedestrian who was struck and killed as she walked a bike across a spottily-lit thoroughfare.
The pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was crossing the street outside of the crosswalk Sunday night when she was hit, according to police.
Behind the wheel was a human chaperone who was supposed to be backstopping Uber’s developing technology. But the Uber employee, Rafaela Vasquez, 44, repeatedly took her eyes off the road in the run-up to the deadly collision, onboard video shows, raising questions about whether any distractions might have been at play.
Police have said the Volvo XC90 was traveling at about 40 mph when it struck Herzberg. It is the first known death involving a driverless vehicle and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Uber would not say Thursday whether Vasquez was on a cellphone, whether she was following company procedures before the collision, or whether she remains an Uber employee. Testing of the company’s driverless fleet remains suspended, an Uber spokeswoman said, “so no vehicle operators, including this one, are on the road.”
Tempe police said the investigation is continuing and would not say whether Vasquez was distracted by something in the vehicle.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Michael Laris, Faiz Siddiqui