Besides the above impediments to rapid adoption, the industry has also been whiplashed by a series of serious accidents in which the autonomous driving technology has been implicated. Here are a few accidents. The first of these, which occurred two years ago, received a lot of press. But the more recent occurrences noted below have barely received the attention they deserve.
7th May, 2016: Joshua Brown, 40, was killed in central Florida his Tesla Model S slammed into a tractor trailer at a highway intersection. Tesla said the car’s sensor system, against a bright spring sky, failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway. LINK
18th March, 2018: A pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, was struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle operated by ride-sharing service Uber in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe. The victim suddenly emerged from a dark shadows but the car didn’t stop. The driver who should have taken control of the vehicle was looking away from the road. LINK
23rd March 2018: A driver of the Tesla Model X, Wei Huang, was killed when the vehicle crashed on highway 101 in California. The car was operating in the autopilot mode. Despite several visual and an audible hands-on warning, the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. LINK
11th May, 2018: A Tesla car was driving in “autopilot” mode when it crashed into a stopped fire truck in Utah. The 28-year-old Utah driver was looking at her phone before the collision and was given a traffic citation for ‘failure to keep proper lookout’. The driver suffered a broken ankle and had taken her hands off the wheel before the crash. LINK
Autonomous driving is a serious matter that deserves our thoughtful attention. If done right, the economic and safety implications will be astounding. If not, the social and political fallout could be disastrous.