Mobileye says its software would have seen pedestrian in Uber fatality

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The head of Mobileye said on Monday its computer vision system would have detected the pedestrian who was killed in Arizona by a self-driving Uber vehicle, and called for a concerted move to validate the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Amnon Shashua, co-founder of Israeli start-up Mobileye, is seen during an interview with Reuters at his second high-tech company, OrCam at their office in Jerusalem March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Amnon Shashua, chief executive officer of Mobileye, the vision system company owned by Intel Corp INTC.O, in a blog post also criticized "new entrants" in the self-driving field that have not gone through the years of development necessary to ensure safety in the vehicles.

Police and safety regulators are investigating the March 18 fatality in which a woman crossing a wide roadway at night was struck and killed by the Uber self-driving test vehicle. The incident has focused new attention on the safety and validation of such vehicles.

Mobileye said it took the dashboard camera video released last week by police and ran it through Mobileye’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), a building block of even more sophisticated full self-driving systems that is currently found in 24 million vehicles around the world.

Despite the low quality imaging from the police video, Mobileye’s ADAS technology was able to detect the pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, and the bicycle she was pushing across the road “approximately one second before impact,” Shashua wrote in the blog, which was published on Intel’s website.

Uber has not said whether the sensors in its self-driving vehicle detected Herzberg in the seconds before the accident.

New developments in self-driving technology and a host of new entrants in the field wrongly give the impression that “the decade-plus experience of incumbent computer vision experts should be discounted,” Shashua wrote.

“Experience counts, particularly in safety-critical areas,” Shashua wrote in a veiled reference to Uber, which only began to develop its self-driving program in 2015.

Mobileye’s CEO has previously argued for a formal model for “provable safety assurances” that all self-driving companies could use to validate the safety of their systems and ensure their vehicles do not cause accidents.

“I firmly believe the time to have meaningful discussion on a safety validation framework for fully autonomous vehicles is now,” Shashua wrote.

Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Leslie Adler