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Artificial intelligence

Uber’s self-driving car spotted a pedestrian six seconds before it killed her

In a fatal accident earlier this year in Arizona, Uber had disabled its vehicle’s emergency braking system to reduce "erratic vehicle behavior," but failed to create a way to alert the human operator to hit the brakes.

The news: If the emergency brake system had been on, it would have reacted about 1.3 seconds before impact, according to preliminary results of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. Whether that would have been enough time to prevent the crash was not addressed.

Leaving the scene: The report comes a day after Uber shut down its self-driving car operations in Arizona. The company said that it plans to restart testing in Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco after the Arizona crash investigation is finished.

What’s next: No matter what the NTSB ultimately finds, this might not adversely affect the rest of the self-driving car industry. A separate investigation by the New York Times found that Uber was having significant problems with its autonomous vehicle program months before the deadly accident.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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