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Thread: Cyclist killed by self-driving car while walking her bike in AZ

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post
    Camera footage now released. See on NPR page: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...elf-driving-ca

    Looks like (1) she was crossing from the paved median to the side with the desire trails. (2) The driver was not paying attention at all. And likely (3) the sensors either weren't working at all or the algorithm is not good enough. (as someone who works with/develops sensors and algorithms to find things in data, I know these things are only as good as all the cases the develops thought of, if that good. Pedestrians not at cross walks at night should have been thought of and designed for).
    Honestly, I have to fault the ped on this one. They are literally right at the edge of a lit segment, in the shadows between the lights--I'm pretty careful behind the wheel but I'm not sure I would have seen her either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO9iRUx5wmM Look at the time between 2 and 3 seconds--the feet basically appear out of nowhere. There are no reflectors on the bike wheels or tires. And the pedestrian doesn't seem to be looking up at the lights on the car, or reacting at all--did they just assume the car would stop? Clearly the driver was being paid to do a job that they weren't actually doing, but I'm not sure how much of a difference that made.

    Just like drivers don't understand how dangerous a lot of what they do is, I don't think pedestrians/cyclists always understand how hard it is for drivers to see something that's not lit or reflective when driving on a road filled with a lot of brightly lit objects that are making it hard to see darker objects--the pedestrian can see fine and assumes that the driver can as well, but that's simply not the case. (That only gets worse when a young cyclist is using what they can see to guess what an older driver can see.) And street lights only make things worse if you're not under the streetlight. I know a lot of people take the reflectors off their wheels because they're uncool or something, but really the reflectors are usually the only thing I see when approaching a cyclist. (Dim blinkies are way less visible than a reflector bouncing back a significant fraction of the ~1400 lumens I'm sending down the road.) Wheel reflectors in particular are the only thing that will typically be visible when approaching from the side as in this case (even "side facing" battery lights are decorative rather than functional).

    Also, the comment about the road design being fatally bad is absolutely correct. At the very least, there should be a light at the crossing. Except then they wouldn't be able to pretend that there isn't a crossing. I would predict that their response, if any, will be a fence.
    Last edited by mstone; 03-22-2018 at 12:56 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brendan von Buckingham View Post
    Paving parts of the median to look or act like pedestrian crossings, and then posting a sign that says "No pedestrians. Use crosswalk" (but providing no sidewalk to safely get you to the crosswalk) is terrible design. Or entrapment. Sue everybody.
    I can't figure out WTF that big X on the median is supposed to be. My best guess is that maybe there was a crossover there to facilitate closing one side of the road at a time for bridge construction/maintenance and they kept it in case they ever needed it again. It's the width of two traffic lanes, doesn't connect to anything, and doesn't seem to serve any current purpose. But there's a streetlight in the middle of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post
    Camera footage now released. See on NPR page: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...elf-driving-ca

    Looks like (1) she was crossing from the paved median to the side with the desire trails. (2) The driver was not paying attention at all. And likely (3) the sensors either weren't working at all or the algorithm is not good enough. (as someone who works with/develops sensors and algorithms to find things in data, I know these things are only as good as all the cases the develops thought of, if that good. Pedestrians not at cross walks at night should have been thought of and designed for).
    Agreed. I think it was Wired that had an article about how this is precisely the type of collision that self-driving cars with sensors and everything are supposed to prevent. There was however long a "slow walk across at least 1 1/2 lanes" of traffic take for the computer to figure it out from the advanced sensors like LIDAR. Even from the video, it looked like there was about 2 seconds from when she came into view in the headlights and the impact; the notion that the car didn't even try to slow down shows that even the basic processing of the situation had failed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Honestly, I have to fault the ped on this one. They are literally right at the edge of a lit segment, in the shadows between the lights--I'm pretty careful behind the wheel but I'm not sure I would have seen her either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO9iRUx5wmM Look at the time between 2 and 3 seconds--the feet basically appear out of nowhere. There are no reflectors on the bike wheels or tires. And the pedestrian doesn't seem to be looking up at the lights on the car, or reacting at all--did they just assume the car would stop? Clearly the driver was being paid to do a job that they weren't actually doing, but I'm not sure how much of a difference that made.

    Just like drivers don't understand how dangerous a lot of what they do is, I don't think pedestrians/cyclists always understand how hard it is for drivers to see something that's not lit or reflective when driving on a road filled with a lot of brightly lit objects that are making it hard to see darker objects--the pedestrian can see fine and assumes that the driver can as well, but that's simply not the case. (And that only gets worse when a young cyclist is using what they can see to guess what an older driver can see.) I know a lot of people take the reflectors off their wheels because they're uncool or something, but really the reflectors are usually the only thing I see when approaching a cyclist. (Dim blinkies are way less visible than a reflector bouncing back a significant fraction of the ~1400 lumens I'm sending down the road.) The wheel reflectors are the only thing that will typically be visible when approaching from the side as in this case. And the street lights only make things worse if you're not under the streetlight.

    Also, the comment about the road design being fatally bad is absolutely correct. At the very least, there should be a light at the crossing. Except then they wouldn't be able to pretend that there isn't a crossing. I would predict that their response, if any, will be a fence.
    Possible ped was at fault or partially at fault - as a ped I always cross very quickly in situations where I do not have a walk signal (and sometimes when I do), but oh so many people seem to feel that they can stroll or saunter. I do not know the expectation there - some places have more expectation than others.
    The images we see on youtube are not necessarily what the person in the drivers seat will see nor what the sensors can detect - I find that camera images are typically darker than what my eyeballs see. And the sensor system should have a greater ability to sense differences.

    I do wonder what the vehicle would do around here with deer. Or anywhere with other animals. They do not wear reflectors (if I can figure out how to get the W&OD herd to wear them, I will try it). They appear to walk, jump or run suddenly into a path. They are difficult to detect, but if self driving cars continually hit deer, they won't be used. If the algorithms and sensors could sense deer, this cyclist would probably not have been hit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrP View Post
    Possible ped was at fault or partially at fault - as a ped I always cross very quickly in situations where I do not have a walk signal (and sometimes when I do), but oh so many people seem to feel that they can stroll or saunter. I do not know the expectation there - some places have more expectation than others.
    The images we see on youtube are not necessarily what the person in the drivers seat will see nor what the sensors can detect - I find that camera images are typically darker than what my eyeballs see.
    yes and no--cameras typically have more limited range than human eyes, but human eyes vary widely from person to person.

    I do wonder what the vehicle would do around here with deer. Or anywhere with other animals. They do not wear reflectors (if I can figure out how to get the W&OD herd to wear them, I will try it). They appear to walk, jump or run suddenly into a path. They are difficult to detect, but if self driving cars continually hit deer, they won't be used. If the algorithms and sensors could sense deer, this cyclist would probably not have been hit.
    It's kinda important to realize that the cars are still in development and not finished products. And uber's program is nowhere near the most mature. (I honestly don't know why they even have one, except that they have too much cash.)

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    For one thing, it is important to keep in mind that this video displays only a subset of the data that would have been available to the AV sensors and its human driver. It is trivial to play with video histograms or display settings so that they show or hide exactly what the person releasing a video wants them to. Even if nothing was altered intentionally, it is extremely unlikely that any display configuration chosen for presentation would manage to encompass the entire dynamic range of the scene that was actually perceptible to the sensors and/or to human vision.

    But let's ignore that argument for a second, and assume that the victim could in fact not have been detected at all before the instant she appears in the video. What this now means is that this vehicle is driving way too fast for its own headlights. The dashed lines are disappearing at about 90 Hz. When the victim's feet are first perceptible in this video, she is a little over 1.5 dashed-line cycles ahead of the car. The car covers that distance in a little over one second and strikes her.

    This pedestrian did not jump out from behind an obstacle; she had already crossed the super-wide area where the left lane opens up into two turn lanes. She had probably been in the northbound roadway for five seconds before impact.

    Is it responsible to drive at a speed that allows you to see only one second in front of you? The recommended highway following distance is two seconds, and that's when you're behind someone who's moving the same direction you are!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    yes and no--cameras typically have more limited range than human eyes, but human eyes vary widely from person to person.



    It's kinda important to realize that the cars are still in development and not finished products. And uber's program is nowhere near the most mature. (I honestly don't know why they even have one, except that they have too much cash.)

    Iím in the category of people that donít see very well at night. My GoPro and my Fly12 also donít see in the dark as well as I see in the dark.

    Uber has a driverless car program because pay is so low that labor shortages are the most critical challenge to long term viability. I get a letter from Uber about once every month trying to get me to sign up to be a driver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Judd View Post
    Uber has a driverless car program because pay is so low that labor shortages are the most critical challenge to long term viability. I get a letter from Uber about once every month trying to get me to sign up to be a driver.
    Yes, but they aren't a car company. The odds that they'll end up making self driving cars faster & better than actual car companies is near zero. It's like if buggy whip manufacturers decided to get into building locomotives (iron horses!) instead of, I don't know, leather steering wheel covers or something similarly in their field of competence.

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    I had to stop from crying when I saw that footage. It showed exactly what I predicted. But I had the new feeling of why oh why was she crossing there in those conditions. She made more than one bad decision that I hope I never make, of if I do, that some driver is paying attention to save my ass. Driverless car couldn't do that. I think this is a terrible example of a driverless system being programmed according to map and regulations of fallible human design. I bet human drivers intuitively drive more alert at that spot because they have real knowledge that pedestrians cross there against the rules. They know the intersection as culture rather than data.

    Anyone know if driverless cars use incident or accident data in their programming? Seems to me that if they did they could drive slower or ready to react in high-incident areas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Yes, but they aren't a car company. The odds that they'll end up making self driving cars faster & better than actual car companies is near zero. It's like if buggy whip manufacturers decided to get into building locomotives (iron horses!) instead of, I don't know, leather steering wheel covers or something similarly in their field of competence.
    But if they view themselves as a mobility company - i.e., their mission is to get people from A to B - then this avenue actually makes a bit of sense - at least as much as their partnership with JUMP! And if that's their goal - then they don't need to be faster/better than the actual car companies or Googles of the world...just cheaper for them.

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