The death of a pedestrian who was struck by a driverless vehicle in Arizona is prompting legislators to take a closer look a the emerging technology of autonomous automobiles, which are currently in use by companies such as Google and Uber.
The tragedy occurred with one of Uber’s self-driving vans in Arizona. According to a story in The New York Times, “an autonomous car operated by Uber—and with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel—struck and killed a woman on a street in Tempe, Ariz. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology. The company quickly suspended testing in Tempe as well as in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
“The accident was a reminder that self-driving technology is still in the experimental stage,” The New York Times story continued, “and governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate it.”
Junior Jack Amling agrees that although the technology has its benefits, it could pose dangers for the average pedestrian.
“I feel like they’ll be an overall positive when they’re universally incorporated, but while normal people are still driving normal cars, autonomous cars are just generally unsafe,” Amling said.
Although self-driving cars have risks like any new, innovative technology, they also have potential benefits. According to Goldman Sachs, automated cars could lead to less traffic on roads and on highways, as well as a decrease in fuel consumption.
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and the Boring Company, has also embraced the capabilities of semi-automated driving. According to Musk, as reported by Vox, “‘Every truck we sell will have enhanced autopilot as standard’ . . . that means semi-autonomous capabilities for braking and keeping in lanes.” This offers a potential solution to the danger that comes with automation: allowing a driver to intervene when needed.