In what is believed to be a first, a self-driving vehicle has killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The accident is being investigated by the local police and the case has garnered national attention as self-driving cars were believed to be this next advancement in road safety that would halt preventable accidents such as this one. Sadly, it appears there is no silver bullet to the motor vehicle accident problem.
This case involved a self-driving Uber SUV that had a “test driver” behind the wheel of it while it was in autonomous mode. The test driver is there in case something goes wrong. When the vehicle is in autonomous mode though, the driver is not in control of the vehicle. It drives itself.
According to the police, while the vehicle was in autonomous mode, it was driving 40 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone. It also appears that the vehicle did not attempt to stop as it approached a crosswalk — the fateful crosswalk where a 49-year-old woman was guiding her bike across the street. The self-driving car hit and killed the woman. In response, Uber pulled all of their self-driving vehicles off the road.
This will sound the alarms in relation to self-driving cars. There have to be better fail-safe procedures in place to ensure these self-driving cars stop before something awful like this accident occurs. There will also be questions about the test driver and the manufacturing and programming behind the self-driving car’s systems.
Source: CNN, “Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian in first fatal autonomous crash,” Matt McFarland, March 19, 2018