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Published on March 25th 2018 in

Uber stops autonomous vehicle testing after pedestrian fatality in Arizona

Uber is halting testing of its autonomous vehicle (AV) fleet in several US cities following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona, where a pedestrian was killed after being struck by one of its self-driving cars. The accident is believed to be the first fatality of a pedestrian where an autonomous vehicle was involved, although a backup driver was behind the wheel when the accident happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it is sending a team to investigate the fatal collision and will investigate the vehicle’s interaction with the environment, other vehicles and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. The team will examine vehicle factors, human performance and electronic recorders. The NTSB has previously investigated a fatal crash of a Tesla vehicle operating in Autopilot mode where the driver of the vehicle was killed.

Uber launched its self-driving test fleet in 2016 in Pittsburgh. It temporarily halted its pilot AV program following another crash in Tempe during March last year. Some consumer groups that have been urging caution over initiatives to test self-driving technology said the accident was another example of why safety needs should be paramount, including in legislation before the US Congress.
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“Sadly, this is a reminder of the risk that comes with rushing to get more and more self-driving cars on public roads before we know they are safe. The promise of self-driving cars is that they can avoid fatalities, but this tragedy makes clear they have a long way to go,” said David Friedman, Director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis, at Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “Right now, Congress is focused on exempting these cars from safety standards to get them on the market faster. Congress needs to shift its focus to ensuring these cars are safe.

Earlier in March, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers joined more than 100 organizations and companies in sending a letter to the US Senate to advocate for action on the AV START Act. Continued development is seen as promoting safety in the long run as US Department of Transportation data shows that human choice or error is a factor in approximately 94 percent of all crashes on US roads, crashes that took the lives of over 37,000 people in 2016. CollisionWeek recently reported that the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2017.

This article courtesy of Russell Thrall III, publisher CollisionWeek. Check out their website at: www.collisionweek.com

 

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