LAS VEGAS — John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, Google's self-driving car project, said Saturday the company has "a lot of confidence" its own self-driving vehicle technology could have detected Elaine Herzberg, the woman who earlier this month was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Ariz.
"Based on our knowledge of what we've seen so far, in situations like that one, we have a lot of confidence our tech would be robust and would be able to handle situations like that one," said Krafcik, speaking at the 2018 NADA Show.
A video recording from the Uber self-driving car that struck and killed Herzberg showed that she moved in front of it suddenly. The inside-facing camera showed the safety driver had been distracted, glancing down before the crash. Self-driving vehicle experts say the car should have detected the woman and braked or swerved to avoid her.
Krafcik said everyone at Waymo felt sad when they heard the news.
"It struck us in a very very major way," he said. "We've dedicated ourselves to making this technology safe."
Krafcik said Waymo has racked up about 5 million miles of testing. The company has launched a self-driving service without human supervision in Phoenix, and Krafcik said it will expand to another city this year. He’s seeking dealers and other traditional industry players to partner with.
Last year, Waymo announced a partnership with AutoNation Inc. to service its self-driving fleet of Chrysler Pacificas.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said the retailer has done hundreds of repairs, mostly after human-driven cars have hit the Waymo vehicles. He’s hopeful to break even in the deal and noted that the vehicles his stores service wouldn’t make good trade-ins.
“I believe at the end, they’re done,” Jackson said. “You’re going to run them until they’re done.”