Uber’s Driverless Car Project Hits Roadblock: Programme Suspended After Pedestrian Death

Uber’s Driverless Car Project Hits Roadblock: Programme Suspended After Pedestrian DeathUber’s driverless car in San Francisco, California (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

American ride-sharing platform Uber’s self-driving car project was temporarily halted after it met with an accident in Tempe, Arizona, reports The Wall Street Journal. In what is the first known fatal accident involving autonomous vehicles, the car – with a human safety operator present – struck a 47-year old pedestrian walking with her bicycle, confirming the fears that many had regarding driverless vehicles – that someone could eventually die.

The Tempe Police Department confirmed the accident and that the woman later succumbed to her injuries. The car was driving at 40 miles/hour in a 35 miles/hour zone and according to police did not show any signs of slowing down. The operator in the vehicle said that the vehicle was functioning normally and was not impaired.

The industry has in the past conceded that such incidents could happen but also contend that autonomous vehicles will save thousands of lives by reducing human error. The sector has seen investments to the tune of billions of dollars from the biggest automobile manufacturers such as General Motors and Toyota and also technology firms such as Alphabet and Uber.

Uber’s project has in the past generated a lot of controversy, especially over the matter of stolen technology from Alphabet’s Waymo that ultimately saw an out-of-court settlement where Uber agreed not to use Waymo’s technology.

The Tempe accident might cause investor apprehension in the sector, while also resulting in a slew of newer regulations coming in to protect the safety of pedestrians.

Also Read: Uber, Waymo Reach Settlement; Ride-Sharing Giant Agrees To Not Use Google’s Technology