Autopilot

Photo by Chombosan via Shutterstock

 

About 1.3 million people die each year because of car accidents and 94 percent of these accidents were attributed to human error. However, this is not the case with a woman hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber in Tempe, Arizona. The vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver in the driver seat, when it struck the woman who was crossing the street. The incident forced Uber to suspend self-driving operations of their autonomous cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” stated Sara Abboud, a spokeswoman at Uber.

According to the May 2016 post by Uber, their vehicle Ford Fusion started collecting map-related data and testing its self-driving capabilities in Pittsburgh. The car unit is equipped with the necessary tools, such as radars, laser scanners, and high-resolution cameras to capture every possible detail on the road. Like other company tapping into the AVs, Uber needs real-world testing to improve self-driving technology.

Testing self-driving vehicles usually include a trained driver who monitors the operations and can intervene in case something goes out of control. However, some autonomous vehicles have been allowed to be tested in certain states without a human driver, such as Google's Waymo in Arizona.

In California, the same thing would happen in April this year. According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Office of Administrative Law approved the driverless testing of AV vehicles in February 2018. The DMV can start issuing permits for AV driverless testing on April 2, 2018.

But the recent incident could raise inquiries about changing the regulations on driverless self-driving vehicles traveling on public roads.