A Self-Driving Uber car struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona on March 18th, 2018, as she walked her bicycle across the street. The vehicle, in a test run of it’s autonomous function, was driving 40 MPH in a 45 zone, when the 49 year old woman was hit. The pedestrian had crossed four of the road’s five lanes when she was hit by the computer-controlled vehicle. There was a driver at the wheel in the Uber. While the woman was not crossing at a crosswalk, neither the car nor the driver acted upon the pedestrian. The autonomous vehicle showed no signs of slowing down before the collision. Uber has suspended all testing of the self-operated vehicles until further notice. The unfortunate incident begs the question, who is at fault?
The Car’s Cameras
The Uber car in question, a Volvo XC90, was equipped with a number of Uber’s sensors and cameras, including one pointed at the driver. Uber officials and the Arizona police will be looking over the data from the sensors and cameras to determine if the driver or the car were experiencing issues during the crash. The crash occurred at about 10 PM. It was clear and dry out, so weather does not seem to be an issue in the case.
Legal Issues with Self-Driving Cars
After the 2016 incident where a Florida man was killed when his autonomous Tesla crashed, the issue of self-driving vehicles has been one of questioning where the fault lies. Is it with the company, the manufacturer, the driver, or the pedestrian? While both of these cases are different; in the grand scheme of things, it is a question that needs to be answered before the age of driverless cars can come to fruition.
The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the case, as to determine whether or not action should be taken on the use of autonomous vehicles. This is the first known incident of a self-driving car hitting a pedestrian.
Arizona is, as of 2015, a regulation-free zone for the testing of autonomous cars. This was established by AZ lawmakers in order to attract the companies working on the technology. The wide roads and dry climate makes it an attractive area for test runs.
While you probably won’t get into a crash with a driverless Uber anytime soon, the legal questions that a case like this will bring up can influence the future of autonomous vehicles for years to come.
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