Uber hires former NTSB chair to advise on safety culture after fatal crash

May 7 (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc said Monday it has hired a former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman to advise the company on its safety culture after a fatal self-driving crash in Arizona.

Online news outlet The Information reported Monday that Uber has determined the likely cause of the fatal collision was a problem with the software that decides how the car should react to objects it detects. The outlet said the car’s sensors detected the pedestrian but the software decided it did not need to react right away.

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A fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self driving cars are shown during a demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
A fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self driving cars are shown during a demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
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"We have initiated a top-to-bottom safety review of our self-driving vehicles program, and we have brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture," Uber said Monday. "Our review is looking at everything from the safety of our system to our training processes for vehicle operators, and we hope to have more to say soon."

A 49-year-old woman was killed on March 18 after being hit by an Uber self-driving sports utility vehicle while walking across a street in Phoenix, leading the company to suspend testing of autonomous vehicles. Arizona's governor also ordered a halt to Uber's testing.

Uber declined to comment on the Information report. "We can’t comment on the specifics of the incident," the company said, citing the ongoing NTSB investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the incident.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in April the ride-sharing company still believes in the prospects for autonomous transport. “Autonomous (vehicles) at maturity will be safer," he said at a Washington event.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis) 

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