Police release dramatic dashcam footage of Uber self-driving car crash that killed woman in Arizona

Tom Powell

Arizona police have released dramatic dashcam footage of the self-driving Uber car crash which killed a female pedestrian.

The video shows the moments leading up to the crash on Sunday night – which led Uber to immediately halt all of its autonomous car testing.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital after being hit by the car while walking her bicycle across a road in a suburb of Phoenix.

The dashcam video shows the dark road and a woman walking across it as the car gets closer but fails to stop.

Police released this footage of the seconds before the fatal crash (Tempe Police)

A second video showing the interior of the car was also released. It shows the operator, identified by police as Rafaela Vasquez, 44, appearing to look at something inside the vehicle and not the road in the seconds leading up to the collision.

She appears to be shocked when she looks up at the windscreen in the final moment before the crash.

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

Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was meant to act as a 'safety driver' (Tempe Police)

Vasquez was meant to act as a “safety driver”, taking control of the vehicle in case of anything going wrong. But she told police that she had no time to brake before hitting Ms Herzberg.

One self-driving car expert, Bryant Walker Smith, said his first impression was of "outrage" viewing the video.

"Although this video isn't the full picture, it strongly suggests a failure by Uber's automated driving system and a lack of due care by Uber's driver (and by the victim)," said Smith, a professor of law at the University of South Carolina.

Another autonomous driving expert agreed with Smith's assessment.

"The sensors should have detected the pedestrian in this case; the cameras were likely useless but both the radars and the Lidar must have picked up the pedestrian," said Raj Rajkumar, a professor at Carnegie Mellon.

"Though no information is available, one would have to conclude based on this video alone, that there are problems in the Uber vehicle software that need to be rectified," he said.