Uber cut back on safety sensors

According to Insurance Journal, in 2016, Uber decided to scale back on technology involving their driverless car. In this case, the technology was for the safety sensors used to detect objects on the road. As a result, these autonomous cars, according to five former employees and four industry experts, had more blind spots than the previous model.

Driverless cars use lidar and sensors like cameras and radars to avoid accidents. Lidar involves laser light pulses to sense dangers on the road. The new Uber autonomous car has only one lidar sensor, while the Ford Fusion model has seven.

According to former employees and Raj Raijkumar, head of transportation center at Carnegie Mellon University, by restricting the lidar to one on the Volvo, Uber has made a blind zone around the perimeter that cannot perceive pedestrians.

Lidar can see objects in a 360-degree circle around a car but has a narrow vertical range that prohibits it from seeing obstacles low to the ground.

Uber failed to comment on its decision to decrease its lidar count.

Since the death of Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona last week, who was killed by an autonomous Uber Volvo, Uber has been under an intense microscope. The reason for the fatal accident is still unclear. The incident is still under investigation, with Uber’s full cooperation. However, they have still offered little detail about the crash itself.

Insurance Journalist has provided information stating that seven experts who have reviewed the crash all agree that an autonomous system should have seen Herzberg and braked. The night was clear, and the streets were well lit with streetlights. However, this does not account for the fact that there could have been a software failure within the car, causing the accident.

Uber has again declined to comment on its radar system and on specific testing incidents but reassures that their technology is continuously being improved.