The topic of self-driving cars has been in the news for many years. It perpetually feels like these futuristic vehicles are always on the horizon, but they never come to fruition. Well for the last few days, self-driving cars have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It appears that the first ever fatal accident involving a self-driving car has occurred, with an Uber SUV running into a pedestrian in Arizona.
The case has drawn national attention, and both the police and Uber are investigating the wreck. What we know at this point is that a 49-year-old woman was crossing the street when a self-driving car struck her. The vehicle was in autonomous mode (though it did have a 44-year-old test driver behind the wheel) and was going five miles per hour over the speed limit. It also never attempted to stop as it approached the intersection.
The woman died from her injuries suffered in the crash. Uber pulled all of their self-driving cars from the roads in response to this accident.
There will be plenty of questions in the days ahead about this wreck. Should the test driver have taken over? Was he even paying attention at the time of the crash? What was wrong with the self-driving cars sensors and equipment? Were they faulty, or was the vehicle improperly maintained and programmed?
There is still plenty we don’t know about the future and how self-driving cars will factor into it. But the more we learn, the more problems we see.
Source: CNN, “Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian in first fatal autonomous crash,” Matt McFarland, March 19, 2018