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Transportation Secretary Comments On Finding That Uber Failed To Program Driverless Software To Detect Jaywalkers

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Remember the pedestrian who was killed by a driverless Uber vehicle?

A government board now says a "lack of adequate software" led to that accident.

"This technology is not perfect:" That's U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao talking Thursday about this self-driving Uber that struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March of 2018.

The National Transportation Safety Board found Uber's software was not programmed for jaywalkers.

The victim had walked her bike across the road outside a crosswalk, and although the Uber car spotted her six seconds before impact with time to stop, it didn't because she was not in a crosswalk.

Chao, who was in Pittsburgh for a Traffic 21 conference at CMU, talked with KDKA money editor Jon Delano about the NTSB finding.

Delano: "Were you surprised that Uber had a vehicle out there, a self-driving vehicle, that did not have the appropriate software to recognize somebody jaywalking?"
Chao: "In her memory and for her, our country and the developers need to come up with new technology that will be better, that will prevent this kind of thing from happening again."

Uber says since that accident, it has corrected the software.

Chao says we still have a ways to go.

"There are five levels," she says. "We are only on level two."

But she says -- not just driverless cars like the ones already on the road here in Pittsburgh -- many of our new vehicles now have better software to avoid collisions.

"(Advance driver assistance) like lane-keeping technologies, like automatic braking," said Chao. "We're also seeing anti-collision features built into cars."

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