Earlier this week, on exactly Monday morning, was a devastating incident that involved Uber, an autonomous vehicle, and a pedestrian. Long story short, there was a pedestrian that was hit by an autonomous Uber vehicle, and was left dead in Arizona.
The vehicle was an autonomous Volvo XC90, and the victim was a female pedestrian who had just crossed in front of the vehicle outside of a crosswalk. The woman did not pass away on the spot, and was even brought to the hospital. However, she later died due to the injuries she had on her body.
It was in Tempe, near Mill Avenue and Curry Road, where the incident occurred, said the local police. This, in fact, is the very first incident that involved a self driving vehicle. According to reports by The New York Times, the vehicle was in autonomous mode, with a safety driver behind the wheel when the incident occurred outside of a crosswalk.
Naturally, Uber did the right thing and decided to temporarily take out all their autonomous fleet of vehicles off the streets in and outside of Arizona. This includes major cities where Uber makes use of fully autonomous vehicles including San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, posted on Twitter his condolences to the family of the woman who got run over.
Now, the company has released a statement saying that they will be working with local police to decipher what went wrong with the car, as they wrote “we are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident”.
Around this time last year, there was another incident that involved another autonomous Volvo car and Uber, when a three car accident in Tempe took place. The accident resulted into the autonomous car landing on its side. After police did their investigations, they came to a conclusion that it was not the XC90 that was at fault. This was because another vehicle failed to yield and therefore, it was responsible for the major collision. Again, after that incident, Uber decided to temporarily halt autonomous development in the nation, during the investigation.
Now, after the incident that occurred on Monday, it will be unavoidable for Uber and Volvo, to receive be questioned and criticized by the public. By now, there’s probably already been a lot of discussion about this matter - whether or not automakers should continue using fully autonomous vehicles on the road, or if these will need further development.
For now, we will just have to wait for the police investigation to finish before we jump into conclusions. The most important question now is how and why the autonomous vehicle did not detect the woman as she crossed the street.