Police in the US have released footage of the moments leading up to a fatal crash involving a self-driving Uber car.
Elaine Herzberg (49) died after being hit by the car, which was in autonomous mode, while wheeling her bike across a road in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night.
An exterior camera captured the seconds before she was hit, showing her emerging from a dark patch of road moments before she was hit.
An interior camera, meanwhile, captured the car’s operator glancing down for several seconds in the lead-up to the collision - before expressing shock moments after looking back at the road.
Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating
the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the investigation once it is available. pic.twitter.com/2dVP72TziQ
— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) March 21, 2018
Investigations are under way into the crash, and are likely to focus on determining the exact reasons behind the crash - including investigating whether or not the car’s sensors detected Ms Herzberg’s presence on the road.
Several commentators, including University of South Carolina’s Bryant Walker Smith, have argued the car’s radar systems should have detected a pedestrian’s presence.
Uber crash video: 1) Victim is moving on dark but open road, so lidar & radar should have detected & classified her. 2) Uber's driver twice looks down for nearly 5 secs (250 ft) each. 3) I can see victim ~2 secs before crash, which is about the average reaction time for drivers.
— Bryant Walker Smith (@bwalkersmith) March 21, 2018
Uber’s autonomous cars rely on various sensors to detect pedestrians, vehicles and other road obstacles. While many of the cars’ functions are automated, a human operator - dubbed a safety driver - is able to take control if needed.
In a statement, Uber said: "The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine's loved ones.
"Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can."
The company had been testing its autonomous vehicles in several areas in the US, but halted the trials in the wake of the fatal crash.