Self-driving Uber car that killed pedestrian ‘detected her but chose to ignore her’

A self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian earlier this year (Picture: Rex)

A self-driving Uber car which killed a pedestrian detected the woman but ignored her presence, it has been reported.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, became the first person to be killed by an autonomous vehicle when she struck by an Uber while pushing a bicycle on a road in Tempe, Arizona, in March.

After an investigation, Uber has found that the Volvo XC90 vehicle did detect Ms Herzberg, but “decided” to ignore her, deeming her a “false positive”.

The Information reported that there was a problem with the software which determines how the Uber reacts with objects it detects.

While the sensors on the vehicle detected the pedestrian, the car’s software didn’t deem it necessary to react straight away.


Uber’s software is designed to ignore objects it sees as “false positives” such as plastic bags. The Information reported that Uber executives believe its system was tuned to be less reactive to objects on the road

Two anonymous sources told The Information that the car decided it did not need to stop for Ms Herzberg.

It was reported the accident was caused by a software issue (Picture: Rex)

It was reported that the vehicle’s detection capabilities had been turned down in order to ensure a smoother ride for passengers.

If the car is programmed in a cautious manner, it will brake more frequently, leading to a bumpier ride for customers.

Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing in the Phoenix area after the death, as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The testing has been going on for months as manufacturers and technology companies compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.

Uber declined to comment about the report.