One of Uber’s “autonomous” Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicles travelling about 40 mph struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, who was walking her bike across a street in Tempe, Arizona.
Uber corporation will not be held criminally liable, instead Uber will be allowed to shift the blame to “the Uber back-up driver” of Uber’s “autonomous” SUV.
The highly vaunted “artificial intelligence,” that makes autonomous vehicles autonomous, was not intelligent enough to autonomously identify and avoid Herzberg, or to alert the Uber employee, Rafaela Vasquez, with sufficient time and warning to pause watching the television show “The Voice” on her phone, take control of the autonomous SUV, diagnose the impending collision and take steps to avoid the collision. If these vehicles are not intelligent enough to be autonomous, the automotive industry should never use the word autonomous. You can’t be half pregnant and a 3,000 lb vehicle traveling at speed can’t be half autonomous.
Rafaela Vasquez was employed by Uber. Uber ‘s artificially intelligent autonomous vehicle utterly failed at being intelligent and autonomous.
In one of our previous posts, Uber manager complained about series of near misses by autonomous vehicles that had not been properly investigated, Robbie Miller, a testing-operations manager at Uber “raised concerns about the “poor behaviour of the operators”, who lacked proper training” in a now public email.
Corporations strategically and tactically hype and promote their artificially intelligent and autonomous products. They should not be able to shift criminal liability to low paid and poorly trained back-up employees when their systems prove to be utter failures. This smacks of strategically using low paid employees as low cost insurance policies and human shields against risk and liability.
Allowing corporations to experiment with artificially unintelligent systems operating 3,000 lb vehicles traveling at speed on public roads represents a clear and present danger to all road users, especially vulnerable road users like cyclists.