The fatal accident that occurred in Arizona is another reason to wonder whether autonomous cars can be described as safe. According to Uber, the company has taken tests of such vehicles to a halt, but clearly does not intend to abandon them.
During the accident, a failure to perform a braking manoeuvre occurred, which means that the culprit is the car technology. Uber, in his cars, installs Lidar, a combination of laser and telescope, which is based on light waves. It is assumed that in the case of the last tragedy, the system did not work properly.
The Volvo was driven in an autonomous mode, which eliminates the need for human driving. It is assumed that on that tragic evening, the car was set to the third level of autonomous driving (according to American guidelines), in which, although it is able to drive on its own on the road, it should be controlled and regularly checked for proper functioning.
The European classification is slightly different from the one from across the Atlantic - this level is called automatic, while only the fifth - the last - is called autonomous. This level of automation makes it possible to completely dispense with the need to sit behind the wheel of the vehicle.
The last event raises two questions: who is responsible for the accident, and when, and if at all, will autonomous cars be completely safe?
As experts say, the details of the situation are very important. For example, if, when driving in mode 3 or 4, the car alerted the driver to the need for intervention and this signal was ignored, then the driver is responsible for the accident. However, if the vehicle did not make it clear that it was malfunctioning and acted in an unpredictable manner - the fault lies with the manufacturer of the steering system.
In situations where a pedestrian suddenly and unexpectedly appears on the road, the driver is usually not responsible for his deduction. It is very likely that in the case of the recent tragedy in Arizona, the verdict will be similar regardless of whether the driver of the car under test was in control.
But how does it look from the perspective of the manufacturer of the whole autonomous car system? Can the company be in any way responsible for this tragedy? Vehicles of this type are currently being tested in a dozen or so states - so what can be done to avoid similar accidents?
Volvo, the manufacturer of the participating car, is one of the participants in the unstoppable race to create the best, safest solutions, systems and systems for autonomous driving. The company has recently been testing level four more and more intensively, stressing at every step that safety is a priority for it.
As specialists say, autonomous cars are the solution of the future, and their potential is enormous. Of course, these statements are addressed by people who believe that safe autonomous driving will never be possible. The road to developing appropriate systems and algorithms seems to be very long, but is it really so?
Unfortunately - as of today, technologies which aim to eliminate the human factor from the equation of probability of accident make mistakes themselves.