Uber Settles Fatal Driverless Car Crash with Elaine Herzberg's Family


(Brandon Bhangoo) #1

For some reason, Uber has settled even before the court with Elaine Herzberg's family. It seems that while blame is not yet found, the pressure from the media as well as mitigating risk, Uber has decided to shut the family up from adding fuel to the flames of theory.

Companies such as Nvidia distance themselves from Uber, claiming that their technology I not involved, and Waymo and Mobileye claiming that their technology would always perform well and would not have led to the death of Herzberg.

The media is having a riot of a time finding anti-Uber detractors that claim anything from disregarding safety to shutting down internal sensors before the ride; they also claim that the safety driver was not watching the road.

This is a classic case of guilty until proven innocent, and while no one knows the cause, and where it lies, the fact of the matter is that it was an Uber AV (Volvo) that hit Herzberg on a dark night, while she crossed the main street without crossing it at a designated pedestrian crossing.

Uber has suspended it AV pilot around the US, and the State of Arizona has suspended Uber from driving there indefinitely.

During the last week, Uber has been in contact with Herzberg's family, and have reached some kind of settlement that appeases both sides. Part of the settlement which remains a mystery will include the standard privacy and confidentiality clauses.

The family's lawyer Cristina Perez Hesano stated that they have "no further comments on this matter as it has been resolved.

Assistant professor at the University of South Carolina school of law, Bryant Walker Smith, a daily contributor to ridesharing blogs and articles said "I respect the family's privacy, but I also wish that the terms here were public. I associate transparency with trustworthiness, and I would encourage Uber to be more public about its process in general. Uber is not the only potential defendant. It's not yet clear what went wrong with Uber's automated driving system, which likely incorporates hardware and software from various suppliers. And the design of that roadway could be viewed as a contributing factor in the crash."

My take:

Uber wants to make sure that the family does not talk after the facts relating to the accident are out. It does not matter what the facts are; the bottom line is that Herzberg was killed in a car accident involving an Uber AV car. The legal issues are unprecedented, and this accident offers a glimpse into a legal quagmire that will now be discussed in law schools and forums around the world. Uber merely stopped the issue from being debated in court and saved themselves a lot of extra pain and hassle.

The item will not leave the headlines; once the truth of the accident comes out, the issue will be debated in full, not just from a legal point of view, but from a technological one too. Unfortunately, this accident has contributed far more to the advancement of AV development than all the ten years of research prior to its occurrence.