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Image credit: REUTERS/Natalie Behring

Uber crash reportedly caused by software that ignored objects in road

The self-driving car's detection system was set not to react quickly enough, sources said.
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REUTERS/Natalie Behring

Uber has reportedly discovered that the fatal crash involving one of its prototype self-driving cars was probably caused by software faultily set up to ignore objects in the road, sources told The Information. The autonomous programming detects items around the vehicle and operators fine-tune its sensitivity to make sure it only reacts to true threats (solid objects instead of bags, for example). Unfortunately, the car's software was supposedly set too far in the other direction, and didn't stop in time to avoid hitting bicyclist Elaine Herzberg.

There was a human driver behind the wheel, but they reportedly took their eyes off the road in the seconds leading up to the crash. Uber settled with the family of the victim, but the resulting panic caused the Arizona governor to halt all testing, and other companies voluntarily delayed their own testing until the dust settled. Uber is conducting an investigation into the system alongside the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but the ridesharing company is expected to reach an initial conclusion far ahead of the NTSB's much more detailed report.

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