A driver is convicted of a self-driving accident

Rafaela Vásquez, driver of an autonomous vehicle at Uber, involved in the death of a pedestrian, he was found guilty to endanger the life of a person in the criminal proceedings relating to the accident.

This guilty plea, filed nearly five years after the tragic accident in which Vásquez collided with a woman crossing her bicycle, offers an answer to the debate over liability in accidents caused by alleged autonomous vehicles. In this case, it has been established that the responsibility lies with the human being.

Following a plea deal, Vasquez will avoid prison by accepting three years of probation. This sentence is less severe than the one he might have initially faced on the manslaughter charge brought by prosecutors.

The prosecutor commented it “The defendant was responsible for driving a vehicle through the streets of our city, which resulted in the death of a woman. We believe that the judge imposed an adequate sentence on the basis of extenuating and aggravating circumstances”..

The long-running legal battle over accident blame has been a manifestation of the philosophical and academic debate about liability in accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Prosecutors argued that Vasquez, who was supervising self-driving capabilities, had been distracted by watching The Voice television program on her phone moments before the crash. Vasquez’s attorneys, however, disagreed, saying she was simply listening to the show and checking work messages on another device.

At the same time, the National Transportation Safety Board conducted a thorough investigation into the accident, noting this Uber’s autonomous vehicle lacked the proper programming to recognize or respond to jaywalkers on the road. The report found multiple “safety and design flaws” on Uber’s part, but did not categorically place blame on the company. Instead, he considered Vásquez’s distraction to be the “probable cause” of the crash.

Uber, which previously had legal issues with Waymo and other autonomous vehicle makers, has invested heavily in the development of autonomous vehicles to improve its profitability.

However, he eventually handed the project over to startup Auro in 2020 after facing legal wrangling and regulatory challenges. Ironically, Waymo, which is suing Uber over alleged theft of trade secrets, plans to offer self-driving cab rides via the Uber app in Arizona later this year.

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