Last week, a self-driving Uber car struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona. This unfortunate Uber accident occurred on a Sunday night and the company halted all autonomous car tests in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto the next day.
The Uber car was a Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle equipped with Uber’s sensing technology and one safety driver whose job was to take control if there was an emergency situation that the car did not respond to. The car was in autonomous mode, going 40 miles an hour on a street with a 45-mile-an-hour speed limit when it struck the victim. Footage from the dashboard camera showed the safety driver was looking down from the road when the victim was crossing the road. Why the safety driver was distracted driving has yet to be determined. The Tempe Police Department is investigating the crash and has yet to determine whether the car was at fault.
This tragic accident appears to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology and serves as an important reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage. Uber began road tests for their self-driving cars in Pittsburgh in September 2016. They added the Phoenix area about a year ago and it now serves as Uber’s main testing ground. There are a few federal rules that govern the testing of autonomous cars, but Arizona has taken a “hands-off approach” to the regulation of these tests.
Technology Behind Self-Driving Cars
Autonomous driving systems consist of many different kinds of technology. Uber’s vehicles utilize a combination of sensors including LiDAR and radar technology. LiDAR, which stands for light, detection, and ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses lasers to create 3D images of a vehicle’s surroundings. The sensors on self-driving cars also gather data on the objects surrounding the vehicle, including the rate of speed and size. These technologies can even categorize objects based on how they are likely to behave.
As amazing as these vehicles’ technology may be, it is still in the experimental phase. This incident in Arizona demonstrates that this technology is not a remedy for Uber accidents yet. Perhaps one day, it will replace drivers, but that day has not yet come.
Rideshares are a growing trend in the United States. Uber and Lyft accident insurance works differently than normal auto insurance. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an Uber or other rideshare company, consult an attorney that understands how to navigate claims against rideshare companies today. (713) 932-0777.