Hyundai Motor cautious about self-driving cars after Uber accident

Gladys Abbott
March 21, 2018

A self-driving test vehicle from Uber Technologies Inc. hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, near Phoenix, March 18, prompting investigations by regulators and a backlash from some consumer-safety advocates.

It's the first known death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driven vehicle on a public road.

Uber's self-driving vehicles have been on testing for many months in Phoenix, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.

The public's image of the vehicles will be defined by stories like the crash in Tempe, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of SC law professor who studies self-driving vehicles. But Monday's accident underscored the possible challenges ahead for the promising technology as the cars confront real-world situations involving real people. In the case of Uber, autonomous vehicles might actually be needed in order to transform their loss-making operation into a profitable one.

The federal government has voluntary guidelines for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles, leaving much of the regulation up to states. Markey is a member of the Senate's Transportation committee. Tempe police Sgt. Ronald Elcock said that fault has not yet been attributed as the investigation is still ongoing, but clarified that the self-driving auto was traveling at 40 miles per hour when it hit Herzberg.

More news: Meghan Markle might wear Princess Diana's tiara on her wedding day

The vehicle was a modified Volvo XC90, which Uber had modified to make suitable for its development needs. The woman was taken to the hospital but died from her injuries. "As soon as she walked into the lane of traffic she was struck", Tempe Police Sergeant Ronald Elcock told reporters at a news conference. The felon, Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was at the wheel of the vehicle as it was in self-driving mode, a feature being tested by Uber in many cities across the USA and Canada. A report on the The New York Times says that many states in the USA, like Arizona have taken a lenient approach to regulate plying of driverless cars. Some media oulets have quickly framed the death as evidence that all autonomous cars are unsafe, Uber is reckless and the state of Arizona has created a lawless haven for testing deadly technology on public streets.

There is a feeling that private businesses are pushing ahead with public testing ahead of time because self-driving technology could prove incredibly lucrative.

Insurance implications will be tested - who is at fault? "Ask any professional driver their opinion on autonomous cars!" wrote another.

"What this incident indicates is that the state of autonomous driving (and especially Uber) is very far from where it needs to be to become market-ready", Richard Windsor, technology analyst for London-based Edison Investment Research, said in a blog post Tuesday. Arizona officials wanted to lure companies working on self-driving technology out of neighboring California, where regulators had been less receptive. "That's why Uber and Waymo test there".

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

Discuss This Article