Uber parks self-driving plans following fatal accident

Whilst boasting their own issues here in the UK, it seems that Uber are facing more problems overseas. In a fight to be the first to roll our driverless technology to the masses, Uber have been aggressively researching and testing new autonomous driving models. However, with a lack of human presence comes a lack of control, with such technology still not perfected. This is something that has been proven by Uber, this week suspending their pilot programme due to a fatal accident.

The accident took place in Arizona on Sunday after an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode hit a pedestrian, killing the victim when they were crossing the street. Causing the CEO of Uber to pass comment, Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet:

“Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”

Seeing many call into question just how developed our autonomous technology is, this fatality has seen many pass comment on who is to blame for the incident. However, many are reiterating the fact that this is the first death caused by a fully autonomous vehicle.

Responding to the crash, Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, sheds light on the dangers of introducing new technology into our societies.

“This tragic event serves to draw attention to the challenges of incorporating autonomous vehicles into an incumbent system operating with manned vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users” he says.

“In 2016 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in our Case Study on Autonomous and Driverless Cars raised the need to address societal questions before highly and fully automated cars are both accepted and legally able to be positioned on our roads; this will include having the right regulatory framework in place.

So, what is the solution?

The solution seems to be both patience and putting safety first. Although we have seen some testing taking place on open roads, brands are expected to implement further safety precautions, going back to in-house testing for the time being.

“Engineers will need to create an environment where connected autonomous vehicles can operate safely with or without an operator during the transition period to a fully autonomous vehicle system. This transition period could last for several decades” Baxter continues.

What are your thoughts on this accident. Is this part and parcel of welcoming autonomous driving or should more be done to prevent injuries in the future? Let us know what you think by leaving your comments below.