A self-driving Uber struck a pedestrian walking outside of a crosswalk on Sunday, March 18th in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first reported fatal crash from an autonomous vehicle and pedestrian. Through a tweet, Uber responded to the crash.
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018
Uber first began testing autonomous cars in California in 2016, but at the time the vehicles were very unsafe. They were often running red lights which caused quite a bit of uproar between state regulators and San Francisco based company, Uber. Since then, the company has been testing their self-driving cars in a few states. They did however suspend the vehicles in Arizona last year due to an accident.
The victim of the accident, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was walking outside of a crosswalk with her bicycle around 10 p.m. on Sunday when the accident occurred. The vehicle, a 2017 Volvo SUV was driving at about 40 mph and most likely didn’t even slow down as it approached Elaine. The operator of the Uber, 44 year old Rafael Vasquez has been cooperative and showed no signs of impairment at the time of the accident.
The self driving cars are meant to detect pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, this was not the first fatal crash of a self driving car, only the first involving a pedestrian. Tesla Motors had an accident
in 2016 involving a Model S driving full speed under the trailer of an 18-wheeler semi truck, killing the car’s operator.
Unfortunately, it seems this technology is not ready for use yet, as there have been many incidents with “self-driving” cars. This accident may cause an uproar for reform of the technology and laws surrounding it. Above all else, more testing needs to be done before this tech is readily available to everyone. Some worry the advancements were released too soon without enough regulations.
If perfected, self driving vehicles are easily going to be a part of the future. However, to get there, we need to ensure these vehicles are doing what they are essentially made for- to be better drivers than humans. Striking pedestrians and stopping in the middle of highways is not helping the case of the companies who want to hurry the expansion of this technology. Are we ready to embrace self-driving cars, or do we need to slow down the rush of technology to ensure they are completely safe?