Going back, when you took your driving test and received your license, someone gave you a lecture on responsibility. Maybe it was your parents, your driving instructor, or your DMV tester. You were driving the car, so it was your responsibility not to crash it.
You probably haven't received this lecture in a while, but it's still true. Someone should always be responsible for every moving vehicle. This is a basic principle of driving, flying airplanes, operating forklifts, riding a bicycle, or hell, even walking. If you come across someone else, you are responsible.
There are many folding and pursuits about how autonomous vehicles can make this liability issue more complicated. They won't, or at least they shouldn't. Some people like to pretend that they are presenting some much more complex matrix of responsibility for who is responsible when something goes wrong and refer to barely pertinent philosophical thought experiments in the process of making it all look like different problem than it is. But whether the vehicle operator is human or computer, someone is still in charge.
You wouldn't understand that since the hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday about the death of Elaine Herzberg, a woman was hit and killed by an Uber test vehicle in March 201
The NTSB identified "safety issues" with Uber's "inadequate security culture", which is is well documented as just one of many reasons. But he also rammed the crash of an Uber safety driver for not paying attention – a separate question from how the self-driving cars were programmed and how management designed the testing process to prioritize "mileage" passed to impress the new boss before safety – and of government agencies such as the Arizona Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not applying stricter regulations or a mandatory report ack safety.
The most frightening thing is that the NTSB even found that Herzberg herself was partly responsible for not walking down the pedestrian walkway – it doesn't matter that the bike trail she was moving spit her in the middle on the block – and there are drugs in her system at the time of the crash, a fact that in her most charitable interpretation means that Herzberg was not alert enough to dive off the Uber SUV before the impact.
Here is the entire "probable cause" of the NTSB Statement:
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the crash in Tempe, Arizona was the failure of the vehicle operator to monitor the driver's environment and the operation of the automated vehicle. driving system, as it was visually distracted throughout the journey from her personal cellphone. Contributing to the disaster: Uber Advanced Technologies Group's inadequate safety risk assessment procedures (2) inefficient supervision of vehicle operators and (3) lack of adequate mechanisms to deal with operators' complacency – all due to poor safety culture. Additional factors contributing to the crash were: (1) impaired pedestrian crossing along N. Mill Avenue off the pedestrian path, and (2) inadequate oversight of Arizona Transportation Control for automated vehicle testing
In short, the NTSB concludes that the fault was first to blame for the safety driver, a contractor hired by Uber to control the software that drives the car. Uber's inadequate security culture has been relegated to a "contributing" factor to the disaster. Herzberg's behavior and lack of oversight by the Arizona Department of Transportation at the AV Tasting were also verified by name.
This attitude, for which there is much to blame, must be consistent with the general tone of hearing, one of acknowledgment and, at times, even praise for Uber. This may sound strange given the NTSB investigation, which concluded that the company's employees were the cause of the crash. But on numerous occasions, NTSB members not only implicitly said goodbye to Uber, but also praised the company for its actions after the disaster, as if the company had completely separated from the one before Hertzberg's death. They were great sports for everyone.
The summary remarks of NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt characterized his overall approach. "Uber ATG has really taken the lessons of this event, of this tragic event," Suwalt said. "Uber has really taken these lessons and we want to encourage them to continue on this journey and we want others to learn from that as well."
You could almost hear the underlying feelings, what he obviously wanted to say we all make mistakes.
Meanwhile, NTSB has never been very clear about exactly what Uber's journey is or what cultural changes the company has made, other than requiring two safety drivers instead of one (would that change in 5.6 seconds, the driver had to save Herzberg's life?). Despite the fact that Sumwalt said during his opening remarks that he hoped other AV companies would learn from this, it was not at all clear what they hoped to learn.
Certainly the auditory synopsis does not include any hints. It includes recommendations to NHTSA, Arizona, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and finally to Uber, which are fully below:
Complete the implementation of a safety management system to test an automated control system vehicles, which includes, at a minimum, a safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance and safety promotion.
These "recommendations", bold to the point of banality, are Omir Simpson-Eske in the absence of being, as if repeating the word "safety" would work.
To be clear, the NTSB has no power to punish anyone. It conducts investigations and makes recommendations, though they are certainly in their right to do better.
But NTSB's coziness with Uber – in a not-so-veiled pocket in Ilon Musk, Sumwalt thanks the Uber CEO for not hooking it up – would be just curious curiosity if not emblematic of the structure's failure. to mislead Uber in any meaningful way about Herzberg's death. Prosecutors have denied accusing Uber of any criminal misconduct. The Herzberg family reached an undisclosed agreement with the company less than two weeks after the disaster, before many of the basic facts of the case go public.
After all, the person who may be the most responsible in all this is the safety driver. Prosecutors did not rule out her accusation and she was the only person mentioned in the NTSB probable cause statement.
To be sure, the safety driver is far from perfect. He periodically watched clips of The Voice on his smartphone, propped up under the wheel in the minutes leading up to the crash. She ignored the road. This may have saved someone's life.
But this is precisely it; The role of the safety driver is to save lives before they are taken, not to drive the car. This is a thankful and inevitably doomed task when you are sitting in a car driven by a bad computer program. To associate a safety driver as a vehicle operator, as NTSB does when it calls it an "operator", is a clear mistake. She wasn't driving the car, it was the computer. This is not a mistake, but a goal.
The main mistake here, other than a series of Uber decisions to put cars operated by computers with unacceptably high failure rates on the road, was the ignorance of Uber – or the deliberate dismissal of decades of research who show that people do not share responsibility with computers well the studies his competitor Waymo received and learned years ago . Waymo, armed with much the same information and technology as Uber, decided it would not take any risk. Uber did it.
Someone should always control the car. When this car is run by a computer program, the company that makes the program controls. When this computer program is very bad for driving cars, then no one controls it. Even the human backup driver cannot compensate for this.
The most cynical interpretation of the role of the safety driver in all this is one of the leading ones. In this interpretation, they are there to be blamed if something goes wrong. I don't know if I'm not ready to go that far, but if that was the plan all along, then the Uber crash would suggest it's good. After all, Uber is in legal clarity after paying almost no cost, legally and financially, for this disaster. They even took an attaché from the investigative catastrophe for saying all the right things. The safe driver can still go to jail.