Autonomous and driver-assisted vehicles have been a primary focus in the media for several months, especially after accidents that have occurred when the technology was newly released on the streets. Not surprisingly, many people in Louisiana and elsewhere have started expressing concerns that self-driving cars are not yet safe enough to be available to the public. A recent accident involving an autonomous Uber vehicle underlines this point.
Reportedly, the SUV with self-driving technology was part of Uber’s testing program. In March, the vehicle struck a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona, killing her. The vehicle had been going about 40 miles per hour at the time of the accident. There had been a driver in the vehicle, but a dashboard recording showed that he may have been distracted when the crash occurred.
Autonomous vehicles operate using a series of cameras and detection systems called lidar, which work together to “see” moving and stationary objects around the vehicle, as well as to detect lane markings and traffic signs. It has been reported that some of the newer Uber vehicles have been equipped with fewer lidar sensors, which have raised concerns about possible blind spots around these vehicles.
Uber has suspended self-driving testing for now and has settled out of court with the deceased woman’s family. The terms of the settlement have not been publicly revealed. It is possible that further testing and development of self-driving technology is crucial before autonomous vehicles can reasonably be considered safe for the streets.
Source: Fortune, “Uber Settles With Family of Victim Killed in Self-Driving Car Accident,” Jonathan Vanian, Mar. 29, 2018