On March 18, 2018, Elaine Herzberg became the first pedestrian in the world to be killed by an autonomous vehicle after being hit by a self-driving Uber SUV in Tempe, AZ, at about 10 p.m. Video released by the local police department showed the self-driving Volvo XC90 did not appear to see Herzberg, as it did not slow down or alter course, even though she was visible in front of the vehicle prior to impact. Subsequently, automotive engineering experts raised questions about Uber's LiDAR technology.12 LiDAR, or "light detection and ranging," uses pulsed laser light to enable a self-driving car to see its surroundings hundreds of feet away.
Velodyne, the supplier of the Uber vehicle's LiDAR technology, said, "Our LiDAR is capable of clearly imaging Elaine and her bicycle in this situation. However, our LiDAR does not make the decision to put on the brakes or get out of her way" ... "We know absolutely nothing about the engineering of their [Uber's] part ... It is a proprietary secret, and all of our customers keep this part to themselves"15 ... and "Our LiDAR can see perfectly well in the dark, as well as it sees in daylight, producing millions of points of information. However, it is up to the rest of the system to interpret and use the data to make decisions. We do not know how the Uber system of decision making works."11
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