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Investigation sheds new light on self-driving Uber accident

Last March, a fatality involving a pedestrian and an autonomous Uber vehicle had people across the country worried about the future of self-driving technology. Understandably, you and other Illinois residents might have been concerned for the safety of those on the roads. New information has surfaced that may put some of your fears to rest, if they do not entirely answer the question of how autonomous cars and vehicles with drivers may mix when the technology becomes more prevalent.

To recap the accident, a woman from Tempe, Arizona, was killed while walking her bicycle across the street, when an SUV with Uber autonomous technology struck her at about 40 miles per hour. Reportedly, there had been a safety driver inside the vehicle. The Uber company settled with the woman’s family for an undisclosed amount.

Autonomous technology may not have been at fault

After a preliminary investigation, authorities say that the Uber company may not have been found responsible for the accident. Dashboard camera footage allegedly showed that the woman had appeared without warning in the dark, on an unlit stretch of the roadway. The safety driver claimed he had not seen the pedestrian until the moment of impact. It may be possible that the cameras and other sensors employed by self-driving technology would have also had difficulty detecting someone in such conditions.

Self-driving plans move forward

Although many autonomous vehicle testing programs were suspended following the unfortunate fatality, it appears companies – and some consumers – are still eager to see self-driving cars become a reality. Technology needs testing and improvement, they assert, and many claim that driver-assisted or fully autonomous technology may prevent accidents that were the result of human error. Regardless, the fact remains that it is always wise to be cautious, whether you are a pedestrian or a driver, as self-driving technology is not infallible, just like human drivers.

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