A self-driving car involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Ariz. earlier this week failed to swerve or slow down in the moments before hitting a pedestrian crossing the road, according to a newly released videotape.
The video, taken from a camera aboard the Uber autonomous vehicle and released by the Tempe police on Wednesday, appears to show the car directly hitting the woman pushing a bike across the road. A separate video taken from a different camera shows the safety operator behind the car’s steering wheel and who is supposed to take over when the car’s computer is unable to properly navigate, was looking down until the final seconds before the crash.
The accident, the believed to be the first fatal collision between a self-driving car and a pedestrian, prompted Uber to suspend testing of its self-driving cars. It also raised new questions about the safety of autonomous vehicles, which are often pitched as being safer alternatives to conventional cars.
(The videos released by the Tempe police are below. They include graphic footage)
Tempe police, who are investigating the accident alongside the National Transportation Safety Board, hasn’t reached any conclusions about responsibility for the crash or whether the car’s LIDAR, or sensing technology had picked up on the pedestrian’s presence. But police have said that the collision, which killed Elaine Herzberg, a 49-year old, was likely unavoidable.
However, the video raises new questions about the Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir characterization to the San Francisco Chronicle that the victim had darted out in traffic. “The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,” the police chief said. In fact, the pedestrian appears to be in the middle of the road when hit at around 10 pm.
In a statement, Uber 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.”
Update: This article was updated from the original with a statement from Uber.