Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Uber's Self-Driving Car Involved in Fatal Pedestrian Accident

D-briefBy Lauren SigfussonMarch 20, 2018 1:13 AM
1473199469-Screen_Shot_2016_09_06_at_3.04.02_PM-1024x518.png

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

(Credit: Uber) Uber’s self-driving car hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, overnight, according to the Tempe Police Department. The car was in autonomous mode with a human operator behind the wheel with no passengers, police told Discover in an email. The pedestrian, a 49-year-old woman, was walking her bicycle near a crosswalk, but not within the lines, at about 10 p.m. Sunday when she was struck by the vehicle, according to Tempe police officers. She died of her injuries at a local hospital. This appears to be the first pedestrian death caused by a self-driving vehicle. According to Fortune, Uber has ceased all of its autonomous car tests in all locations (Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Phoenix and Toronto). Uber shipped its robo-cars to Arizona in 2016, which is a hotbed for self-driving car testing. Waymo recently announced it would operate its fully autonomous cars — no drivers — on public roads.

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

This deadly crash will likely raise questions about future legislation surrounding autonomous cars. But this isn’t the first accident involving autonomous vehicles. In 2016, a Tesla Model S operating in self-driving mode smashed into a tractor-trailer. The car didn’t brake in time, but a report

ultimately found the human driver at fault for relying too much on the automation features.



Since 2011, 21 states have passed legislation

involving autonomous vehicles. Governors in 11 states have issued executive orders or announced initiatives related to autonomous vehicles, as well. Some states have even made it easier to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads. Self-driving cars are often marketed as safer alternatives than human drivers. After all, humans cause more than 90 percent

of car crashes — vehicle failures, the environment (slick roads, weather) and other unknown reasons make up the remaining causes. In 2015, more than 5,000 pedestrians

 were killed in traffic-related crashes in the U.S. There are still many details we don't know about this incident. Should the human driver have taken over controls? Was all the tech working properly? The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted

that it's sending a team to investigate the crash, so we should have more answers in the near future.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In