Felon controlled self-driving Uber that killed woman

The woman, identified as 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was struck as she walked her bicycle across the street.

Ryan Calo, a researcher studying the legalities involved in vehicle autonomy at the University of Washington, outlined that even if the pedestrian is found partly responsible in the Uber incident, the company will also be held liable.

The American National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to probe the accident involving the Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle, which had been fitted with Uber's sensing system.

Police say the investigation, so far, does not indicate the SUV slowed down before hitting Herzberg.

Uber has since temporarily halted its driverless testing program in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the pedestrian who was struck crossing the street", Elcock said. Once the investigation concludes, the case will be referred to the Maricopa County attorney, who will determine whether to bring charges.

Tempe authorities and federal officials are still investigating the incident. Any risk of road accident by self-driving cars will be significantly less than the current number of road accidents - which is reported to be a staggering 1.25 million per year.

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Companies including Ford, General Motors, Tesla and Waymo are investing heavily in research to develop self-driving cars, which are often characterised as the future of the industry and hailed as a way to reduce traffic accidents.

While I believe that driverless cars will liberate the elderly and disabled, ease congestion, improve air quality (as most self-driving cars are electric) and make our roads safer, they are also only as safe as the systems which power them.

There are now over 600 cars with some level of autonomous technology being tested on Arizona's roads, including fleets run by GM Cruise and Google-owned Waymo.

In the UK, Gatwick Airport is planning to test self-driving shuttle buses this summer.

The auto had a driver behind the wheel but was reportedly in autonomous mode when the accident occurred. Taking a lower scale and referencing May 7, 2017, that recorded 89 deaths in an auto crash, including Joshua Brown who died using autopilot mode, we can say, in the USA, human drivers kill approximately 88 people in auto crash daily. Safety regulators later determined Tesla was not at fault.

A "transition period" to fully autonomous cars operating safely on the roads could take several more decades, said Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering at the IMechE.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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