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.
"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.