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Did Self-Driving Cars Hit a “Pothole?”

While a lot of us want to see the revolution of self-driving vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially after what happened a couple weeks ago.

This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com
This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com

A woman in Arizona was killed when a self-driving car from Uber hit her while she was crossing the street at night. She “could have” been to blame for suddenly walking off a median or jaywalking in front of the car in the night. However, the street was well-lit and the woman was making an attempt to get across the street before the car hit her.  This shows that there is work to be done by Uber and state governments.

Self-driving cars would save many lives in the future but as of now, at least 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the U.S. die in auto accidents (human-driven cars).

The provider of Uber’s laser technology, Velodyne, said that their technology was “more than capable” of identifying her before the collision which would have stopped the car.  Police in Arizona stated that the car didn’t slow down until after she was hit.

Velodyne is blaming Uber and its test driver for the incident and they have a point. Uber’s driver, who is supposed to take the car over if the autonomous system fails, didn’t even have their hands on the steering wheel. Uber’s cars have had a hard time lasting 13 miles before a driver has to take over. In comparison, Waymo’s cars (Google) can last over 5,600 miles.

Uber has also cut down its Lidar system from seven units to only one. The remaining one does have a blind spot according to employees who have worked on the car. So in other words, Uber is cutting corners to lay claim as the first company to sell a self-driving car.

States across the U.S. have taken action and have made regulations for the self-driving cars which is why Uber is in Arizona (they don’t have many regulations for the self-driving car business). Arizona could have a problem on their hands if this becomes a common theme.

While self-driving cars are touted as the future of driving and they would cut down on many deaths, there is more work to be done before they become a common feature in someone’s driveway. States have to be tough on regulation so we get the best product, and don’t end up with a product that has been cutting corners like Uber has.