The incredibly tragic death of a woman in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend has cast a pall over the self driving industry. The woman was struck by a self driving Uber vehicle while at a cross walk and has brought out both the proponents for and against the entire autonomous vehicle movement out in force.
Its not news that the big hitters from the car and tech industries, like Google, Uber, Toyota, Tesla, Intel and Oracle, have been aggressively pushing for more advanced and sometimes lenient legislations across all governments as they look to try and set the playing field for the entire self driving industry. The core argument most of these companies use to help promote the quicker enactment of laws for the industry centre around safety, as in it will be way safer to have robots driving our cars and trucks instead of tired, distracted and drunk people behind the wheel. Industry estimates say that over 35,000 people are killed each year on American roads and that over 5,000 pedestrians lose their lives each and every year in the United States alone. Proponents of self driving cars say that by removing the ‘human’ element to driving we will in fact be building a safer and more efficient roadway system for years to come.
Those on the other side of the isle counter that things are just moving too fast and that all of this pressure by tech and auto companies to accelerate the speed of change is being done so at the expense of safety. The Trump government, who have very been vocal in their desire to move the velocity at which autonomous driving legislation is moving, have also stressed that safety must rank as a high priority in any scenario that involves new legislation. The team at Uber just can’t seem to catch a break as it announced that it was suspending all of its autonomous driving testing for the foreseeable future.