Uber found itself to be the first clog in the evolution of autonomous cars, when one of its self-driven testing cars ran over a pedestrian at Tempe, Arizona. Despite having a backup human driver behind the steering wheel, the car that was doing 38 mph did not apply brakes when a pedestrian suddenly appeared in front of the car, in a vain attempt to cross the road.
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode [autonomous or human-driven] based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway. It is dangerous to cross roadways in the evening hour when well-illuminated managed crosswalks are available,” Chief of Police Sylvia Moir said.
The victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg is believed to have been a homeless individual who was attempting to cross to the other side of the street with her bicycle when the Volvo XC90 SUV collided into her.
Although self-driven cars were developed in the faith that they would be definitively safer than human-driven counterparts, developers are now realizing new real-world situations that the onboard computers aren’t programmed to react for.
Following this incident, Uber has announced that it would ban its self-driven car testing in 4 cities (Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto) as of now.