Automated, self-driving cars were supposed to be the wave of the future— technology that would decrease the number of car crashes that occur each year. Are they really the answer, though? Or do they have the potential to do more harm than good? Two recent accidents in Arizona, both of which involved automated cars, suggest there may be some major issues at hand.
A Look at the Accidents
The two vehicles—one a Tesla, the other an automated Uber—crashed in Arizona within the same week. The first incident, which occurred in Phoenix, involved the Tesla and an on-duty motorcycle officer. News sources indicate that the officer had been stopped at a light while exiting the highway. The Tesla stopped briefly, directly behind the officer, but then moved forward. The driver of the Tesla stated he had been using the vehicle in the autopilot mode, but authorities were not able to verify this. No one was injured in the crash, and the on-duty officer stated the crash was not severe enough to even warrant a report or investigation.
The second incident occurred in Tempe and involved Uber’s self-driving Volvo XC90. Local authorities stated that the incident was the fault of another driver who failed to yield, not the fault of the Uber car. Thankfully, no one was injured in that crash either.
Are Compromises Being Made?
This is now the second crash involving a Tesla, reportedly on autopilot. This is not the first time that Uber has drawn criticism either. They have been scrutinized for their cars running red lights and cutting off cyclists. Google cars, another automated car manufacturer, has also seen crashes. They, too, have been accused of possibly making compromises to get their tech on the road first. So, if Google has taken shortcuts to release their cars sooner, then it is possible that Uber may have as well. They have been developing their tech for less time than Google, but placed passengers in their cars sooner.
Unfortunately, it seems the problem is much bigger, and may include all automated cars—not just ones from specific manufacturers. In fact, one study has suggested that automated cars and conventional cars may never mix. So, then, who would be liable in a driverless car crash? That is what everyone needs to decide.
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