The idea that a vehicle without a driver could be just as skilled as a vehicle with a human driver operating it is difficult to contemplate. Have we really advanced so far in computer technology that we can rely on robot-driven cars to take us from A to B? According to Uber, Toyota, Alphabet, Tesla and many other automakers, we are close to having driverless cars that are actually better at keeping people safe than human-driven cars.
It's easy for us to judge any accident involving a self-driving car to be the fault of the driverless tech behind it. However, according to some, we shouldn't be too quick to judge the safety of driverless cars.
A recent accident brings a critical eye toward self-driving tech
A recent accident that happened in Arizona, where an autonomously driven Uber sport utility vehicle struck and killed a woman who was walking her bicycle across the road, has brought a lot of critical attention toward self-driving technology. In the wake of the accident, both Uber and Toyota have halted testing of their autonomous cars, and other vehicle manufacturers are considering doing the same.
That said, recent news has come out that shows Uber and the supervising driver behind the wheel of the self-driven car might not be to blame for this woman's death. Police who reviewed footage of the accident taken by Uber's onboard cameras believe that even a human driver would have had a hard time avoiding the pedestrian in the case because of the way she came quickly out of the shadows and onto a section of the road where there wasn't a crosswalk.
Furthermore, a closer analysis of the accident site shows what some are calling a "pedestrian-hostile" design of the median of the highway where the accident happened. Apparently, there was an enticing brick pathway through the median that looks like it's inviting pedestrians to cross, while at the same time, there is a sign indicating that pedestrians shouldn't cross.
This begs the question: Was the recent Arizona self-driving car versus pedestrian death the fault of the autonomous driving tech or was it the result of negligent road planning?
Don't judge any car accident until you have all the facts
Only time, and court proceedings, will tell for sure who was at fault for this pedestrian accident. In the meantime, it's certainly hoped that anyone involved in a crash will not judge fault or liability on a surface-level examination of the facts at hand. In many cases, a deeper analysis reveals car accident fault and liability issues that no one was initially considering.