According to reports, one of Uber’s self-driving test vehicles has been involved in a fatal accident with a member of the public. The collision occurred in Arizona and has become the first case of a fatality involving an autonomous vehicle, which has created a huge divide between the public.
Unsurprisingly, this event has forced Uber to put testing on hold for now as the incident is cleared up, however, it could have a knock-on effect for everyone else involved in the rapidly evolving self-driving sector. Future customers are now looking at this global news and becoming put-off by the idea of sitting in a dangerous autonomous vehicle.
The Tempe Police Department reported that the Volvo XC90 in use was in autonomous mode when the accident occurred, although the vehicle also had a human safety driver behind the wheel in order to take control in the event of an issue. Does this show that autonomous vehicle are not yet ready? This echoes many industry expert’s views that the industry is moving too fast, which is extremely dangerous for everyone involved. If not respected and nurtured, self-driving cars will become a serious hazard to the public. This accident should be a huge wakeup call.
Since the first autonomous cars started testing in the US, we have seen countless lawsuits and issues between local authorities, automakers and software specialists, from the Waymo lawsuit to the California DMV shutting down Uber’s unlicensed self-driving programme. However, this could be the biggest hurdle for autonomous vehicle development, with the accident taking front stage in global news.
But what I think is most important, is that autonomous vehicle development is not jeopardised. Yes, this accident is very sad and my thoughts go out to the victim’s family, but we must also look at how much safer self-driving cars are. They are the future and they will revolutionise transportation around the world.