Last month, a self-driving SUV struck and killed a pedestrian. According to reports, the woman was walking her bicycle across a road when an Uber vehicle apparently didn't detect her. The SUV was part of a testing program for the new, autonomous driving technology.
You may have expressed doubts when the first autonomous and driver-assisted vehicles came on the scene. Many people claim that the technology has not been sufficiently tested and is not quite advanced enough to be safe around the public.
How do self-driving vehicles work?
Autonomous vehicles employ an array of cameras and lidar sensors (remote sensing laser technology), which are mounted on numerous points around the vehicle. This enables the vehicle to detect lane markings, traffic signs, nearby vehicles, pedestrians and other stationary or moving objects.
How safe is the sensor technology?
Engineers claim that if one or two sensors are compromised, the remainder of the system should be enough to make up for the weakness until repairs are made. Investigators are unsure how the system failed in the fatal accident, which is believed to be the first pedestrian fatality involving self-driving vehicle technology.
The accident may set back autonomous cars for a while
Uber, a forerunner in the autonomous vehicle race, has allegedly removed some of the lidar sensors in its newer fleet of self-driving vehicles, raising concerns about possible blind spots. It is unknown whether the SUV that was involved in the fatal accident was one of those with fewer sensors.
The woman's family has settled with Uber for an undisclosed amount, and the company has halted public testing on autonomous vehicles for the time being.