Following the terrible accident in which a self-driving UBER SUV killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, the state’s governor halted Uber’s permission to test its cars.
Uber has already suspended its testing of autonomous vehicles nationwide before Arizona’s ban, but this is still a bad omen, as the state was previously extremely receptive to self-driving tests.
Just a few weeks ago, Arizona’s governor Doug Doucey allowed Uber to test its self-driving cars without a safety driver.
Even though the self-driving Uber involved in the fatal accident had a test driver behind the wheel, neither human nor vehicle could swerve in time to avoid the pedestrian.
Doug Doucey’s statement, as reported by Wall Street Journal, spells trouble for Uber and the myriad of other companies hoping to put driverless cars on the road, even if those companies claim otherwise.
“My expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona. The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uber’s competitors Intel and Waymo have come forward, some would say in rather bad taste, to claim that their technology would not have had fatal consequences. Waymo’s chief executive, John Krafcik, told a crowd that “situations like that one – in this case a pedestrian or a pedestrian with a bicycle – we have a lot of confidence that our technology would be robust and would be able to handle situations like that one.”
Furthermore, Mobileye from Intel took to a blog post to analyze the dashboard camera footage from the crash.
“Despite the suboptimal conditions, where much of the high dynamic range data that would be present in the actual scene was likely lost, clear detection was achieved approximately one second before impact,” said the company after feeding the footage into their own system.
As shown in our last report, even the police stated that the accident was “difficult to avoid”, so perhaps time is what is needed to restore the authorities’ and people’s trust in self-driving vehicles.