Self-driving tragedy struck over the weekend in Tempe, Arizona when an Uber self-driving test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian. Despite having a human driver in the car monitoring the autonomous vehicle, a woman reportedly crossing the street just outside a crosswalk was struck.
While not much more is known to the public at this time, one thing is for certain: Uber is taking this incident seriously. The ride-hailing giant stated that it would immediately stop all testing on public roadways nationwide. Prior to now, there haven't really been any major reports of catastrophes, or even other deaths, caused by self-driving cars.
Autonomous Cars Kill People
Every person has heard that questionable and controversial idiom about guns not killing people, but rather, people killing people ... well, here, we actually have a car killing a person. It's likely that the person monitoring the self-driving vehicle will probably take the fall, with Uber helping to make it as soft as possible.
As noted by the media, self-driving cars can often struggle when driving on streets that have pedestrian and bicycle traffic, though can excel while driving on a highway. In the Tempe accident, it was reported that the pedestrian was walking her bicycle across the street.
There is likely no shortage of people jumping up and down screaming "I told you so." But until more is known, the entire autonomous car industry will be watching as this is the first actual reported death. Not only will Uber and local authorities be looking into the crash, the NTSB has sent a team to investigate as well. Uber has stated that it intends to fully cooperate in the investigations.
Tesla's self-driving car death in 2016 was found to have been caused by the driver's failure to put his hands back on the wheel after the car warned him to do so (twice). However, in that crash no pedestrian or other motorists were harmed, only the Tesla driver who ignored the warnings was harmed.