Uber Not Criminally Liable For Fatal 2018 Self-Driving Car Accident

Last year 49-year-old, Elaine Herzberg, was killed after being struck in a Phoenix suburb by a self-driving Uber vehicle. Herzberg was walking outside of a crosswalk when the vehicle hit her. The self-driving Uber was in autonomous mode driving around 40 mph at the time of the accident. It was thought that the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, may have been streaming The Voice while driving. But now, Uber has been found not criminally liable for the fatal accident.

Yavapai County attorney Sheila Sullivan Polk wrote that her office had found “no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation.” She added, however, that there remain unresolved questions about what the driver would have been able to see before the crash. It was found that Uber self-driving vehicles do not indicate to drivers when they should take manual control to avoid a collision. So while the Volvo detected something in front of it 6 seconds before the crash, it did not properly recognize it was a person, only concluding emergency braking maneuver was necessary 1.3 seconds before hitting Herzberg. Note that the car’s built-in automated emergency brakes having been deactivated by Uber. Uber settled with Herzberg’s family last year for an undisclosed amount.

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