Arizona already allows self-driving cars to operate without a driver behind the wheel. Since late last year, Waymo, the self-driving car unit from Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been using cars without a human in the driver’s seat to pick up and drop off passengers there. The state has largely taken a hands-off approach, promising that it would help keep the driverless car industry free from regulation. As a result, technology companies have flocked to Arizona to test their self-driving vehicles.
Autonomous cars are expected to ultimately be safer than human drivers, because they don’t get distracted and always observe traffic laws. However, researchers working on the technology have struggled with how to teach the autonomous systems to adjust for unpredictable human driving or behavior.
An Uber self-driving car was involved in another crash a year ago in Tempe. In that collision, one of Uber’s Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicles was hit when the driver of another car failed to yield, causing the Uber vehicle to roll over onto its side. The car was in self-driving mode with a safety driver behind the wheel, but police said the autonomous vehicle had not been at fault.
In 2016, a man driving his Tesla using Autopilot, the car company’s self-driving software, died on a state highway in Florida when it crashed into a tractor-trailer that was crossing the road in front of his car. Federal regulators later ruled there were no defects in the system to cause the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a small team of investigators to Arizona to gather information about the Uber crash, said Eric Weiss, an N.T.S.B. spokesman.
News credit : Nytimes