Self-Driving Cars

Tempe Police Release Footage of Fatal Uber Self-Driving Car Accident

Dashboard camera footage of this weekend’s Uber self-driving car accident was released by Tempe police.

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson

Image: Twitter/Tempe Police Department

Arizona’s Tempe Police Department has release video footage of the Uber self-driving car collision that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg at 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Authorities are “actively investigating the details of this incident,” Tempe police said on Twitter where the department shared interior and exterior dashboard camera footage from that night.

The video reveals Herzberg crossing N. Mill Avenue with a bicycle before being struck. The hands of the Uber car’s operator, Rafael Vasquez, do not appear to be on the steering wheel, “which is what most backup drivers are instructed to do because it allows them to take control of the car quickly in the case of an emergency,” reported the New York Times. Vasquez also seems to be looking down, perhaps at something off-camera.

The Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle was in autonomous mode when the fatal collision occurred. The car was driving 40 miles per hour—5 miles per hour under the speed limit—at the time. Tempe police have stated that Uber may not be to blame.

“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” Tempe police chief Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

Herzberg’s death marked the first known pedestrian fatality by autonomous car. Uber has since suspended its self-driving car programs across the nation, but has not commented on when or if it plans to resume them.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” Uber told Motherboard in a statement on Monday.

We still don’t know why the car’s sensors did not detect Herzberg as intended. Last year, Uber successfully opposed proposed legislation in California that would have required autonomous car companies to collect more sensor data at the time of a collision. Uber said at the time that these standards should be allowed to “organically develop.”