Autonomy experts have already weighed in onin March, and now a leading safety organization appears to support those previous findings.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said that Volvo's built-in collision avoidance tech could have prevented or helped reduce the severity of that fatal Uber crash, Bloomberg reports, citing a report from and a phone interview with David Zuby, the IIHS' chief research officer. The IIHS tests vehicles' crashworthiness above and beyond standard federal tests.
"[H]ad the system been able to intervene, the fatality may not have occurred," Zuby told Bloomberg. "I would argue that if developers of self-driving technology really intend to make our roads safer, they had better make sure they have the best crash-avoidance systems in place before they go out on the road."
"We remain an active party to the NTSB's investigation, whose final report has yet to be released," said an Uber spokesperson in an emailed statement. "In the meantime, we've implemented a set of safeguards that we believe improve operations of our self-driving technology and look forward to publishing a voluntary safety self-assessment in the coming months."
The report claims that Uber's system first saw the pedestrian 6 seconds before the crash. The system determined braking was needed about 1.5 seconds before the collision, but with both autobrake systems disabled, it was up to Uber's hired human operator to hit the brakes. The system did not alert the operator, however, who wasto her phone in the seconds leading up to the fatal impact.
Uber halted its autonomous-vehicle development in the wake of the crash. Eventually, the company chose to leave Arizona entirely, choosing instead to focus its R&D efforts in Pennsylvania. In July,, intending to train a new slate of drivers with more specialized training.