San Francisco– An Uber driver in the US who was involved in the first-ever fatal autonomous crash in 2018 has pleaded guilty to one count of endangerment and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Rafaela Vasquez, working as a backup driver for Uber in its self-driving vehicles, was charged in the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in the US state of Arizona in 2018, reports Arizona Republic.
The case was the first one involving an autonomous vehicle that killed a person.
“We acknowledge this is a unique case, it involved an automated vehicle on a dark road. But the defendant had one job and one job only, and that was to keep her eyes on the road,” Tiffany Brady, a prosecutor in the case, was quoted as saying.
The US National Transportation Safety Board in 2019 determined that the driver was mostly to blame for the crash. Uber later settled a civil suit brought by Herzberg’s family.
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Vasquez to three years of supervised probation and the judge David Garbarino went with their request.
“This obviously was a very unique case. The court appreciates you have taken responsibility for your conduct,” Garbarino told Vasquez.
The Uber vehicle was operating at a level of autonomy known as level 3 which means that the vehicle is responsible for all aspects of driving, but still requires an attentive driver.
Some companies have since rejected Level 3 autonomy but it is used by others.
Uber temporarily halted its self-driving tests immediately following the crash.
The ride-hailing company is now working with Alphabet’s Waymo to offer trips in autonomous vehicles in Phoenix, Arizona. (IANS)