Most of the revenue Uber collects is passed along to their drivers, so it’s no surprise that they’ve invested so heavily in self-
driving technology. They’ve already committed to buying a billion dollars of self-driving Volvos.
Uber’s self-driving technology has had hiccups before. Last year in Tempe, Arizona a self-driving car was involved in an accident, though there were no serious injuries.
But last night, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe while driving in autonomous mode.
Uber has suspended their self-driving program from Arizona as well as Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.
Uber’s new CEO sent out his condolences on Twitter:
Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened. https://t.co/cwTCVJjEuz
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 19, 2018
Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We’re fully cooperating with @TempePolice and local authorities as they investigate this incident.
— Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 19, 2018
Of course, human drivers are involved in deadly accidents every day. But is humanity ready to hand over deadly machinery to robots unless they are perfect? The loss of a life is tough pill for people to swallow when it happens at the hands of technology.
However well over a million people die annually in car crashes. My guess is that later in this century, humans will be banned from driving in some locations. One day our grandkids may even wonder how we ever allowed humans to drive. But we’re clearly a long way away from that.
It’s in Uber’s best interests to keep developing self-driving technology. But incidents like this may just kill the program until the technology exists to support it without making deadly mistakes.
Of course other big companies, including Google and car manufacturers, are also heavily investing in self-driving technology. It will be interesting to see how accidents like this affect public opinion and local laws on autonomous driving.
Do you think that the world is ready for self-driving cars?