It still sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel but there’s no denying it…whether you like them or not, self-driving cars are most likely coming to your streets sooner than you realize. By definition, a self-driving car is a vehicle with technology that allows it to automatically steer, accelerate, brake and avoid obstructions with minimal or no human driver interaction.
They have been on the road, being tested for some time now and there has been a fair share of problems. A number of crashes have been reported involving Google, Tesla and GM autonomous vehicles.
Most of those crashes have been minor, but now we have the first fatality. This horrific incident involves an Uber self-driving car.
How did this tragic event happen?
Uber and Waymo have been testing self-driving vehicles in select cities across the country for quite a while. On Sunday night, a woman who was walking outside of a crosswalk was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, AZ.
The car was in autonomous mode, even though there was a safety driver in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash. The victim is 50-year-old, Elaine Marie Herzberg.
Image: Self-driving Uber vehicle
Uber issued a statement saying “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.”
Uber is suspending its self-driving car operation in Arizona, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Toronto until they can figure out what went wrong. Last year, Uber temporarily suspended its fleet after another crash in Tempe, AZ. That accident was blamed on another car failing to yield at a left turn and there were no injuries in that incident.
This is the first known fatality involving a self-driving car. Manufacturers have been developing the autonomous vehicles as a way to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), autonomous cars are safer than vehicles driven by humans. That’s because 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error.
Automated vehicles can potentially remove human error from the crash equation, which will help protect drivers and passengers. It’s also supposed to protect bicyclists and pedestrians, but we now have an argument against that as a reality.
Police and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating why this fatality occurred.
What’s the future of self-driving cars?
How will this gruesome incident change the future of self-driving vehicles? Let’s face it, this technology is not going away…it’s the wave of the future. However, it’s going to need to be improved and more changes are likely to come.
Kim Komando believes we’ll end up having autonomous vehicle dedicated lanes. Like bike lanes or train tracks, self-driving cars will have their own lanes to keep pedestrians from mistakenly walking into them. It’ll be an enter at your own risk situation.
Have a question about autonomous vehicles or anything else tech-related? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show.
Speaking of auto safety, here are ways to avoid the temptation of distracted driving
There are plenty of ways to go hands-free and still use your phone while driving. Studies show that even hands-free phone use can be distracting. If you find yourself having a difficult time fighting the temptation, you’re not alone. But there’s help!