We’ve now seen the worst that can happen when self-driving cars are being tested on public roads before the software is fully functional.
A Self-Driving Accident
It seems that it doesn’t matter that vehicles which are equipped with autonomous technology have already had an excellent safety record, the greatest fear of the car hitting a pedestrian while they are trying to cross the street has happened and the pedestrian has been killed in the process.
This has caused a reaction in the automotive world by one of the largest automakers. While investigations take place to learn why and what the exact details were regarding the Uber autonomous Volvo XC90 that struck a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ, and killed them, Toyota has responded to this news by halting its testing for a short period of time.
Safety Systems Failed in Self-Driving Testing
The confusion regarding the accident that took place isn’t just the fact that an autonomous vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian, but the fact that an Uber driver was in the driver’s seat which is meant to help as a safety net to make sure an accident such as this doesn’t take place.
The Right Response
Toyota’s halting of AV testing in its Chauffeur program on public roads in the US has to do with how other drivers might feel when they see these cars on the road. Those behind the wheel of the cars in the Chauffeur program may be stressed and a bit emotionally distraught after this news and Toyota needs to give them some time to gather their wits and be prepared to get back behind the wheel and monitor the systems of these AV models that are being tested out on the roads in this country.
Uber Self-Driving Accident Response
Because the accident took place with an Uber vehicle, this might put a damper on talks that have been in place between Uber and Toyota. Allegedly, Uber and Toyota are in talks to partner on self-driving software for the future, but this accident just might be enough to take these talks on a negative path and cause them to be completely derailed.
Responses from Several Automakers
This also offers those who are concerned about what AV models will bring to the market the ammunition needed to point to an example of what might happen when the self-driving systems that are in place don’t perform the way they were designed. Toyota isn’t the only company with self-driving cars on the road other than Uber. GM also has a prominent AV program in San Francisco which uses the Bolt-EV based prototypes that drive around with a driver behind the wheel in autonomous mode.
This GM company is called Cruise Automation. So far, no word has been given if GM is suspending its operation for a period of time in the same manner as Toyota. The greatest question is whether or not this accident will cause the development of self-driving technologies to take a step back or not?
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