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What happened in Tempe

The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), the nation’s preeminent traffic safety agency, released its preliminary findings on the Uber automated vehicle crash in Tempe which killed a pedestrian walking her bicycle. What they found:

  • It took the car several seconds to identify that Elaine Herzberg as a person During this time the car didn’t brake.
  • The car realized 1.3 seconds before impact that it needed to brake. However, the automated emergency braking was disabled when the car was in automated mode.

NTSB notes

According to Uber, emergency braking maneuvers are not enabled while the vehicle is under computer control, to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior. The vehicle operator is relied on to intervene and take action. The system is not designed to alert the operator.

Uber’s response: They will stop testing AVs in Tempe, but will continue testing in traffic in other cities.

The Senate is currently debating the AV START Act, which would allow manufacturers to sell automated vehicles — without requiring the automated driving system meet a standardized safety test or providing any process for the development of a safety test in the future.

The bill would allow manufacturers to set their own safety testing requirements and require reports to US DOT about how their vehicles perform according to those tests. However, the manufacture and sale of a vehicle could not be conditioned on the content of that report.

That is not enough. Testing of these vehicles in San Francisco and Pittsburgh have shown these cars cannot reliably recognize and respond to bicyclists and pedestrians.

The League of American Bicyclists is teaming up with other partners to ask Congress to wait — to not pass the AV START Act without a including a process for creating a “Vision Test” safety standard that would ensure automated vehicles can detect and respond to bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable users in our roadway.

Please join us and Contact your Senators Now ask them to require automated vehicles to pass a vision test in the AV START Act.

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