The road to fully autonomous vehicles is a long, difficult and partially dangerous one.
The rush to be the first to launch bulletproof fully-autonomous driving technology is ongoing and is nowhere near completed. There are many facets to the whole question of autonomous cars, one of which is that the majority of North Americans still enjoy driving…
In fact, a recent study from Ipsos, the world-leading research and insights organization, found that “only 30% of new car buyers in the U.S. have a positive opinion of the Autonomous Mode feature and only 25% would consider the feature in their next vehicle.” Markets like Japan and China are far more interested in autonomous driving features on their cars and are looking forward to being shuttle away in a self-driving car.
Most experts think that fully-autonomous technology won’t be widely available before 2023. In the meantime, all those interested in providing the technology are hard at work perfecting it.
Uber’s been at it for a few years now and, like most other companies, the sailing has not been quite as smooth as they’d like. Just recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released that Uber’s autonomous test fleet was involved in no less than 37 crashes over an 18-month period. While most of these incidents were a mix of mild technological shortcomings and driver error (the other vehicle) but it’s the fatal incident in Arizona that occurred in March of 2018 that raised a few flags.
In a nutshell, the Uber vehicle failed to identify the pedestrian, who was walking her bicycle on an awkward portion of a road, and fatally struck her. Essentially, the NTSB said, “The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians.”
The disturbing element is that the vehicle did detect the pedestrian before striking her. When it did, the Uber car initiated the programmed one-second delay of planned braking to figure what to do. By then, it was too late.
The difficulty with autonomous driving technology is the near endless number of unique scenarios that the car may be faced with when simply going about driving. Uber has since thoroughly updated its programming but we think we’ve not yet heard the end of autonomous vehicles being involved in various accidents.