Intel took a shot at Uber over the fatal crash involving its self-driving car. On Monday, the chipmaker showed that its own driver assistance technology could have helped avoid the accident.
Intel did this by taking footage of the fatal collision involving the 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg and running it through the advanced driver assistant system from its subsidiary Mobileye. The software was able to detect Herzberg a second before the impact, Intel vice president and Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua wrote in his posting.
Last week, police in Arizona released the footage, which came from the dash cam of Uber’s autonomous vehicle. The video shows the self-driving car failing to stop as Herzberg crosses the middle of the road at night.
Police are still investigating the fatal crash, but the whole incident has sparked debate over who’s to blame. Intel’s post on Monday suggested that Uber may have been at fault. The chipmaker didn’t specifically name the ride-hailing company, but it said “new entrants” have been diving into the self-driving car market with half-baked technology.
“Recent developments in artificial intelligence, like deep neural networks, have led many to believe that it is now easy to develop a highly accurate object detection system,” Shashua wrote in his post.
This approach has a big drawback, according to Intel; it can discount the experience brought by another AI-related field known as computer vision. Last year, Intel bought Mobileye, an Israeli supplier of computer vision technology and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which Shashua touted in his post on Monday. Mobileye has been developing the tech for over 15 years and 27 automakers are using it.
“It is the high-accuracy sensing systems inside ADAS that are saving lives today, proven over billions of miles driven,” he wrote.
So far, Uber hasn’t directly commented on Intel’s post. And to be clear, investigators still haven’t assigned blame for the fatal crash. Nor have details been revealed over why Uber’s car failed to stop and if the company’s self-driving system ever detected Herzberg before the fatal accident. Nevertheless, Arizona’s governor has reportedly suspended Uber’s testing of self-driving vehicles in the state.
In response, Uber said: “We proactively suspended self-driving operations in all cities immediately following the tragic incident last week. We continue to help investigators in any way we can, and we’ll keep a dialogue open with the Governor’s office going forward.”
Intel hasn’t been the only company to weigh in on the fatal crash. The CEO for Alphabet’s self-driving car company Waymo reportedly said: “We have a lot of confidence that our technology would be able to handle a situation like that.”
However, Intel’s Shashua said he’s more worried about public perception of self-driving technology taking a nosedive. “More incidents like the one last week could do further harm to already fragile consumer trust and spur reactive regulation that could stifle this important work,” Shashua said.
He added that self-driving car suppliers will need to build more redundancies into their technology to avoid fatal accidents. “I firmly believe the time to have a meaningful discussion on a safety validation framework for fully autonomous vehicles is now,” Shashua said.