>> More than a year before Uber's self driving car hit and killed a woman in Arizona, the company decided to go with fewer sensors on its new Volvo SUV that exposed the vehicle to blind spots. That's according to industry experts and former employees. Reuters correspondent Heather Summerville spoke to them.
>> In 2016, Uber changed from a fleet of Ford Fusions, which is was using for self-driving tests, to Volvo SUVs. And in doing so, it also scaled back significantly the number of sensors it put on the car that helped the car see objects on and near the road.
Now, when it did this, my sources and experts in the field say, it created a blind spot around the perimeter of the car. So there is a blind zone around these cars where objects close to the ground, like animals, can't be seen.>> The Arizona death raises questions about the safety of autonomous vehicle testing on public roads.
Flexible regulations in Arizona had allowed Uber to test in Tempe school zones and downtown streets, but Arizona's governor on Monday suspended the company's ability to test its self-driving cars on the state's public roads. The Uber car that killed the homeless woman at night was on autonomous mode, and in video released by police, the car does not appear to brake even as the woman comes into view.
>> There is the possibility that the car's LIDAR failed to pick up this pedestrian because she was in the blind zone. But then again, other parts of Uber systems should have corrected the situation. It has radar, has other sensors, that really should have detected her. So this is considered really a significant system failure.
Uber's LiDAR system, which uses laser light pulses to detect hazards on the road, was made by manufacturer Velodyne, one of the top suppliers of sensors for self driving vehicles. Velodyne acknowledged that with the rooftop LiDAR there is a roughly three meter blind spot around the vehicle, and more sensors are necessary.
Uber meanwhile has suspended it's self-driving tests in all of North America following the incident.