Reality comes crashing down on both Uber and Facebook

21 March, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Uber’s Self Driving Car Crash A Setback For Autonomous Vehicle Project

Rafaela Vasquez was at the wheel of the vehicle, which was in auto mode, when it struck Elaine Herzberg as she was walking a bicycle outside the crosswalk in Tempe at 10 p.m. on Sunday night.

Moir told The Chronicle this is only the second auto accident that involves an autonomous vehicle, even though hundreds of self-driving cars operate in Arizona. All test vehicles are required to have a qualified safety driver who is ready to take control, until autonomous vehicle trials demonstrate that the technology is ready for fully autonomous operations.

Police said the victim, Elaine Herzberg, was struck while walking outside a crosswalk.

Uber has since suspended all testing of its autonomous vehicles in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.

"Our hearts go out to the victim's family", Uber said in a statement.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office will ultimately determine whether any charges will be filed in the crash. Although self-driving cars are already on the roads in many parts of the US, China, Japan, Germany and in many other countries, governments may subject future self-driving proposals to closer scrutiny.

Herzberg's death has sparked concern over whether the vehicles should be trusted in the same way as regular cars.


The National Transportation Safety Board announced an investigation into the matter.

While I believe that driverless cars will liberate the elderly and disabled, ease congestion, improve air quality (as most self-driving cars are electric) and make our roads safer, they are also only as safe as the systems which power them.

- So far, 21 USA states plus the District of Columbia have enacted legislation related to autonomous vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Hyundai executive told Reuters that the South Korean manufacturer remains cautious about developing driverless vehicles, citing the Uber accident. Previous reports of a self driving vehicle crashing involved a Tesla which was in the Autopilot mode and hence semi-autonomous and not fully autonomous.

In the UK, Gatwick Airport is planning to test self-driving shuttle buses this summer.

I would guess the difference may be that Apple's testing may be limited to California compared to Tesla and Uber testing in other states as well, but the comparison is striking considering Apple has been generally quiet on its plans for self-driving vehicle testing.

Either way, the fatality could hurt the technology's image and lead to a push for more regulations at the state and federal levels, Professor Smith said.

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