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Disturbing footage shows the moments before the fatal Uber self-driving-car crash

Rob Price
uber self driving crash cockpit view

Tempe Police Department


  • Police have released footage from a fatal crash involving one of Uber's self-driving vehicles.
  • It is believed to be the first time an autonomous vehicle has killed a pedestrian.
  • The video shows the vehicle operator looking away and the pedestrian walking across the road.

Police have released footage from the moments before a fatal crash involving one of Uber's self-driving cars and a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The video, captured by the vehicle, shows both the forward view from the front of the car when the pedestrian enters the roadway and the reaction of Uber's vehicle operator in the driver's seat directly before the crash, which the footage does not show.

The footage from the interior shows the Uber's vehicle operator, who was not controlling the vehicle at the time, periodically looking down and away from the road.

The pedestrian emerges from the shadows on the left lane of the road, pushing a bicycle, as the vehicle drives along the right lane.

You can watch the footage below, but be warned that some may find its contents disturbing.

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On Sunday at about 10 p.m. local time, one of Uber's autonomous vehicles hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, in what is believed to be the first time a self-driving vehicle has killed a pedestrian.

Uber has grounded its fleet of self-driving vehicles, and authorities are investigating.

In a statement, an Uber representative said: "The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine's loved ones. Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state, and federal authorities in any way we can."

Police have said the vehicle did not meaningfully slow down before the crash. It's not yet clear whether its sensors picked up Herzberg (lidar, a key technology in self-driving cars that uses lasers to detect obstacles, does not require daylight to function).

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week, Tempe's police chief, Sylvia Moir, said: "I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident."

Moir added: "It's very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode" — autonomous or human-driven — "based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway."

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