Two recent fatal collision involving a self-driving Uber and a Tesla which was on autopilot raise many safety concerns and questions. Are these vehicles vetted enough, are they safe enough to be operating on metropolitan roadways and highways?
On March 18, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona, a 49 year old pedestrian walking outside of crosswalk just before 10:00 p.m., was struck by a self-driving Uber Volvo XC90 SUV, she was killed.
The vehicle was traveling northbound, south of Curry Road, when the pedestrian crossed the roadway from west to east, when she was struck.
The self-driving Uber was in autonomous mode, travelling at 40mph at the time of the collision. The vehicle had a driver behind the wheel of the car at the time. Uber claimed to be cooperating with Tempe police. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was sending an investigative team.
Previously, Arizona allowed autonomous vehicles on the state’s roads without a test driver behind the wheel.
Uber had been testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and the metropolitan Phoenix area. The United States Department of Transportation cited a poll showing that 78 percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles.
After the fatal crash, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey suspended Uber’s self-driving car tests. Governor Ducey stated that he found video footage of the crash “disturbing and alarming.” Uber stated that it proactively suspended self-driving operations after the collision. Operations were also suspended in California, Pennsylvania, and Ontario.
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles told Uber that it would lose its testing privileges, following the Arizona crash. If Uber wants the return it will need a new permit and will have to address investigations concerning the Arizona crash.
Another fatality occurred on March 23, 2017 involving a Tesla Model X SUV. The fatal crash took place in Mountain View, the vehicle was on autopilot.
Tesla contends that the driver, age 38, an engineer, who was killed and a damaged freeway barrier were at fault.
Tesla claims that the driver didn’t have his hands on the steering wheel before the crash, despite several warnings from the vehicle. Tesla claims that vehicle logs indicate that the driver did not take action to stop the car from crashing into a concrete lane divider.
Tesla further claimed that there was a missing or damaged safety shield on the end of a freeway barrier, that was damaged in a prior accident, without being replaced, possibly pinning liability elsewhere as a auto accident lawyer Phoenix, AZ relies on can explain.
The decedent’s family stated that the driver took the vehicle in to the Tesla dealership, with complaints about Autopilot problems, before the crash.
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