If you were to picture a world where self-driving cars were everywhere, would you see it as a world without accidents? That is certainly the goal of autonomous vehicles. Ultimately we want to be free to read a book, check our cellphone, or talk with friends in a car that drives itself, all while not having to worry if it will make it from point A to point B without getting into an accident.
Such a sci-fi utopia may be in the cards, but days like this past Monday put the potential problems of self-driving cars into focus. A crash in Arizona killed a 49-year-old woman, and left Uber and the police scrambling to figure out what exactly happened.
The accident happened when the 49-year-old woman attempted to cross the street with her bike. As she was doing this, a self-driving Uber vehicle that was going 40 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone crashed into her. There was no attempt by the vehicle to brake or stop, according to police. The self-driving Uber vehicle did have a test driver behind the wheel of the car, but he was not operating the vehicle at all. It was in “autonomous” mode.
Answers to the many questions that people have about this accident are fleeting for the moment, but the investigation will certainly provide some needed information soon. Uber’s response to this crash will also be very interesting.
Source: CNN, “Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian in first fatal autonomous crash,” Matt McFarland, March 19, 2018