As part of its ongoing preliminary internal investigation, Uber has learned that a software bug caused the fatal crash that took place in Arizona recently.
Uber's Self-Driving Software Detected But Ignored Pedestrian
The fatal crash, claiming the life of a 47-year-old pedestrian named Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, earlier this year, was the result of a glitch in Uber's self-driving car technology, according to The Information.
The report noted that Uber has determined the likely cause of the fatal collision was a software deciding which objects it should detect and which to ignore.
Although the Uber operated semi-autonomous Volvo XC90's sensors detected Herzberg as she was crossing the street on her bicycle, the vehicle's software did not feel the need to stop right away because the car's self-driving technology flagged Herzberg as a "false positive."
Self-driving cars have the ability to filter out "false positives" or objects in its path that the vehicle can safely ignore, such as a plastic bag or a trash can on the sidewalk.
The report pointed out that Uber had adjusted its technology to be less cautious about objects around the vehicle. This is to purposely provide a comfortable and smooth ride to its passengers, without the automobile having to hit the brakes unnecessarily for objects that do not pose a threat.
Uber Hires Former NTSB Chair To Advise On Safety
Shortly after the fatal accident, Arizona suspended Uber's permit to conduct self-driving tests on its public roads. Both the National Transportation and Safety Board and Uber are investigating the crash.
Uber also recently hired the former chair of the NTSB as a safety advisor and it has also initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of its autonomous vehicle program.
"We initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture," the company said in a statement. "Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we have more to say soon."
Hart was chairman of the NTSB when the agency was investigating a fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot system in 2016.
Uber wants people to know that the car crash was an isolated incident. Enlisting the help of a former NTSB chairman and conducting a safety review speaks volumes about the company's commitment to safety and demonstrates that it is not taking the incident lightly.