Self-Driving Uber Car Kills Arizona Pedestrian; MoBikeFed joins other bike/ped groups across the US in requesting far greater oversight

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

A woman in Tempe, Ariz., has died after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber, in what appears to be the first known death of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle on a public road.

The Uber vehicle was in autonomous mode with a human safety driver at the wheel when it struck the woman, who was crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, the Tempe police said in a statement. The episode happened on Sunday around 10 p.m. The woman was not publicly identified. . . .

The fatal crash will most likely raise questions about regulations for self-driving cars. Testing of self-driving cars is already underway for vehicles that have a human driver ready to take over if something goes wrong, but states are starting to allow companies to test cars without a person in the driver’s seat. This month, California said that, in April, it would start allowing companies to test autonomous vehicles without anyone behind the wheel. . . .

Autonomous cars are expected to ultimately be safer than human drivers, because they don’t get distracted and always observe traffic laws. However, researchers working on the technology have struggled with how to teach the autonomous systems to adjust for unpredictable human driving or behavior.

MoBikeFed comment: This unfortunate and horrific collision re-emphasizes the fact the we, along with other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups across the U.S., have been raising with the USDOT and Congress: The safety of autonomous vehicles operating in the vicinity of people who walk and bicycle has not been demonstrated.

In fact, autonomous vehicles have a known weakness in detecting and operating around bicycles.

Sunday's fatality in Arizona--one of the first fatalities involving and autonomous vehicle--shows that driverless cars are cannot yet operate safely around pedestrians, either.

(The victim was pushing her bicycle across the street when struck and killed by the driverless vehicle.)

Driverless vehicle technology has great promise to improve safety for all road users. But until that safety is proven and demonstrated, driverless vehicle companies should not be allowed to experiment with people's lives by operating their machines on our roads and streets.

States and the federal government that are working to create regulations for driverless vehicles must provide proper oversight and testing and must require driverless vehicles to demonstrate safety when operating near people who walk and bicycle BEFORE these vehicles are allowed on our roads and streets.

MoBikeFed has been a signatory to several letters to Congress and to the USDOT on this issue. Read a summary of the issues and our position here: