Otherwise common terms like driving, operator, and control will be subject to intense debate. More than two and a half years ago, in Tempe, Arizona, an Uber “self-driving” car crashed into pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, killing her. So when prosecutors need a target in the name of public accountability, it is the ”servants” who often pay the price. The board also said Uber lacked appropriate oversight for vehicle operators. Photo by Angelo Merendino/AFP via Getty Images. @Uber https://t.co/HMlvYhCuis, This is what OVER-regulation looks like! In this case, Uber rushed to negotiate a settlement with Herzberg’s heirs, reaching an agreement within days of her passing. https://t.co/VKrbtqKLdk pic.twitter.com/PRVWUF9XMZ, California may not want you; but AZ does! And while the world of driverless cars grabs big headlines and big investments, the job of a safety backup driver is not a sexy high-tech gig. Now that Uber has settled its civil lawsuit, and the state of Arizona and NTSB have completed their investigations into Herzberg’s death, Rafaela Vasquez is the last person left to blame. The accident prompted the … Autonomous vehicle design involves an almost incomprehensible combination of engineering tasks including sensor fusion, path planning, and predictive modeling of human behavior. The investigators found that an alert vehicle operator would have had two to four seconds to detect and avoid pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing a street when struck by Uber's self-driving vehicle. The safety driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber that struck and killed a woman in 2018 has been charged with a crime. Though Uber touts the safety of self-driving cars, at least 1 fatality has already occurred that involves these vehicles. It is therefore imperative that we critically evaluate who will bear moral and legal responsibility when humans and robots share control of complex systems that will inevitably malfunction. The case against Vasquez sends a message that when robots and other automated systems fail, the corporations that deploy these technologies from a distance will be absolved while low-level employees who are physically closest to the equipment will suffer the consequences. Respondeat superior is based on the logic that employers benefit from the agency relationship and are therefore in a position to exercise control over how their employees conduct their business. Washington, DC (CNN Business)A federal investigation into a fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car concluded the probable cause was a safety driver distracted by their phone. You can cancel anytime. But it’s not the powerful tech company that programmed the car that killed her in March 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. To be clear, Vasquez does not seem to be blameless. Silicon Valley Tries to Sweep Trump Under the Rug. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. Software detected the woman almost six seconds before Uber's self-driving car struck her, investigators say, in the crash that would lead to her death and prompt the ride-share giant to slam the brakes on its autonomous vehicle The death of Elaine Herzberg (August 2, 1968 – March 18, 2018) was the first recorded case of a pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving (autonomous) car, after a collision that occurred late in the evening of March 18, 2018. Instead of grappling with those nuances, they appear to have elected to pursue an easy target in the name of hollow accountability. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. NHTSA has released guidelines for self-driving vehicles, which it calls a "Vision for Safety. UBER'S self-driving car that killed a pedestrian may have seen the woman and ignored her anyway. Uber started testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh in 2016. #Arizona welcomes @uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads. In a prepared statement, she said, “When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a responsibility to control and operate that vehicle safely and in a law-abiding manner.” But this rationale is dubious in light of previous actions and comments made by Arizona government officials. Sumwalt contrasted Uber's approach with Tesla. Prosecutors essentially have unchecked discretion over what criminal charges they file and against whom, and an Arizona county prosecutor previously declined to file criminal charges against Uber in Herzberg’s death. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc.2018. Especially troubling in this context are the comments of Arizona’s Gov. By David Shepardson 3 Min Read WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The back-up safety driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber Technologies UBER.N test vehicle that struck and killed a … But in criminal law, there is no real corollary to the doctrine of vicarious liability. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. Perhaps more importantly in the context of civil lawsuits is that corporations with “deep pockets” are able to pay monetary damages whereas employees often do not have the means to satisfy large money judgments, rendering them meaningless. Elon Musk disagrees. Uber’s self-driving car killed a person, and now we know who is to blame. The NTSB report is clear that Elaine Herzberg’s death was in no small part a consequence of Uber’s inadequate safety culture. Corporations can’t go to jail. ", "They should rename it a 'vision for lax safety,'" Homendy said. First, “probable cause” as used by NTSB is more properly understood to mean the most immediate and proximate cause—not as a statement of moral or criminal culpability. The NTSB found that Uber had no safety plan for its self-driving operation, or equivalent guiding document at the time of the crash. The Uber self-driving car struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, who was pushing a bicycle across the road in Tempe, Arizona. The first recorded instance of a self-driving car being involved in a pedestrian fatality has caused many to question the wisdom of allowing autonomous vehicles to … An internal camera caught the Uber worker looking down and away from the road moments before the accident, unaware of Herzberg’s presence before it was too late. Uber's self-driving software wasn't designed to expect that pedestrians outside crosswalks may be crossing the street. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices Copyright S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates. 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