The first death of a pedestrian struck by an autonomous vehicle could answer some critical questions surrounding liability. A self-driving car owned and operated by Uber knocked down a woman and killed her in Arizona. This was the first example of a pedestrian fatality associated with autonomous cars. In the court of public opinion and actual legal courts, this could lead to significant strategy and perception. Autonomous driving technology has not been appropriately addressed by federal regulators, leaving a gray area associated with autonomous cars.
At the time of the accident, the victim was walking her bicycle in the street outside of a crosswalk when she was struck by the Uber in autonomous mode.
A statement was issued by Uber that they were suspending the testing of all of their autonomous vehicles in Toronto, Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The basic vehicle was supplied by Volvo but Uber made software and engineering changes and both companies will be involved in looking at the accident data on the onboard computers. Practically every car company is testing some type of autonomous driving, hoping that the technology would be advanced enough to roll to the public by 2025.
There is a belief that technology will lead to fewer accidents, however, there have been concerns about the moral determinations of what happens in particular accident scenarios as well as concerns over fatalities and accidents caused by autonomous cars and who remains responsible.
Any pedestrian accident carries the risk of severe injuries for the person not in the car at the time of the crash.