Sensor supplier says Lidar tech isn't to blame in fatal Arizona crash

Velodyne believes Lidar technology had nothing to do with this week's fatal crash.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

The recent fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, has sent waves through the automotive industry, which has been pushing for the rapid development and adoption of autonomous driving technology.

Marta Thoma Hall, president of Velodyne, a major Lidar supplier, has stated that she is unsure why the vehicle wouldn't have stopped. Based on information provided by the company's Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) system, darkness shouldn't have affected its operation.

Uber fatality
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Uber fatality

Velodyne President Marta Thoma Hall believes that the company's lidar should have been able to detect Ms. Herzberg, thus avoiding a collision.

Tempe Police Department

"We are as baffled as anyone else," said Thoma Hall, in an email to Bloomberg. "Certainly, our Lidar is capable of clearly imaging Elaine and her bicycle in this situation. However, our Lidar doesn't make the decision to put on the brakes or get out of her way."

A Velodyne spokesperson would not clarify if the company's sensors were present on the Uber vehicle that was involved in the fatal crash.

"In addition to Lidar, autonomous systems typically have several sensors, including camera and radar to make decisions," Thoma Hall wrote to Bloomberg. "We don't know what sensors were on the Uber car that evening, if they were working or how they were being used."

Uber has stopped all of its self-driving car testing while this collision is being investigated. Toyota has also paused public testing of its autonomous systems in the wake of this crash. The Tempe police department is currently working with Uber as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the root cause of this tragic incident.