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Uber suspends autonomous driving trails after fatal accident

20 March 2018

An autonomous Uber has hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the company has since stated its intention to stop all self-driving tests in North America.

Image courtesy of Uber

The 49 year old woman was struck as she tried to cross the road. The BBC have reported comments from the police, stating that the woman had not been using a pedestrian crossing when the accident happened. It has also been reported that a person was behind the wheel of the vehicle for monitoring purposes, while it was in autonomous mode.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said about the news:

“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family at this difficult time. This tragic event serves to draw attention to the challenges of incorporating autonomous vehicles into an incumbent system operating with manned vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users. 

“Uber are right to suspend their trials of autonomous vehicles until the cause of this accident is fully understood. In 2016 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in our Case Study on Autonomous and Driverless Cars raised the need to address societal questions before highly and fully automated cars are both accepted and legally able to be positioned on our roads; this will include having the right regulatory framework in place.

“Engineers will need to create an environment where connected autonomous vehicles can operate safely with or without an operator during the transition period to a fully autonomous vehicle system. This transition period could last for several decades.”

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