Investigators recreate fatal crash involving self-driving Uber vehicle

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Uber vehicle involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian was back on the road briefly. Investigators used it to recreate the accident. 

The Tempe Police Department, the NTSB and the National Highway Safety Administration were recreating the crash on Thursday night on Mill Avenue south of Curry Road.

[RAW VIDEO: Investigators recreate fatal crash involving self-driving Uber in Tempe]

For this test, they had a human hitting the brakes. Investigators already have data from the accident where the car was in self-driving mode. The wanted to see if a human could have done better, given the same circumstances. 

Using the same car, and even the pedestrian's bicycle, investigators try to simulate the moment 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was hit and killed. 

[ORIGINAL STORY: NTSB team is in Tempe investigating self-driving Uber wreck that killed pedestrian]

We showed Mike McCullough the video. "In this particular video that you see here, they're doing multiple tests on deceleration. They're sliding the car to a stop, or applying the brakes as full as possible," said McCullough. 

McCullough worked for the Phoenix Police Department for 25 years, many of those spent in the Vehicular Crimes Unit. Now retired, he runs an  accident reconstruction company.

"If you have the ability to do this much reconstruction in a particular crash, you'd always want to do it, as an investigator,' said McCullough. 

He says it's not often investigators get a chance to do these types of recreations, using the exact vehicle and stretch of roadway. 

"Very rare," said McCullough. "The majority of the time the vehicle is in such a crushed shape it can't be driven." 

?[READ MORE: Tempe PD releases video of moments before self-driving Uber hit, killed pedestrian]

But this is a very high profile case. McCullough says investigators want to get as much data as they can to figure out what happened and who's at fault. 

"Obviously because of the nature of the beast we're talking about, a driverless vehicle here that will become more prevalent as the year goes on, you want as much information as possible on how they react and what's going to happen," he said. 

[RELATED: Driving instructor simulates crash, says autonomous Uber accident was preventable]

[READ MORE: Can Uber's self-driving project survive a lawsuit? Legal experts say yes]

They ran the test five times, hitting 40 miles per hour, which is how fast the vehicle was going when it hit Herzberg, and then braking, according to police.


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