The entire autonomous vehicle movement took a blow this weekend with the unfortunate death of a pedestrian in Phoenix Arizona, where a woman was struck by an Uber self-driving car. The incident comes at a very sensitive time for the entire autonomous driving industry as some of the biggest players in both tech and automotive vie to try and sway governments to fast track broader legislations for the introduction of autonomous driving vehicles to the current ecosystem.
Its estimated that there are over 40,000 deaths per year in the United States alone that are directly attributable to car and truck crashes, plus there are over 6,000,000 road related accidents across the US each and approximately 6,000 pedestrians are killed each and every year. Companies like Waymo, Uber, General Motors, Toyota, Google and Intel are actively campaigning for the faster introduction of autonomous driving legislation across all levels of government and have been using the argument that these self driving cars will actually reduce the amount of deaths on US roadways.
This latest incident is sure to bring out an enormous amount of vitriol from politicians who are looking to block the pace at which tech and automotive companies alike want to move on bringing in laws that are more attuned to the current times. Uber, which is in partnership with Volvo on its autonomous driving platform, has already suspended all of its current self-driving testing and it is expected that a number, if not most, of other players in the space will follow suit.
The Trump administration has been vocal about its desire to remove as many road blocks as possible to allow for more progressive legislation as it relates to the self-driving industry, but has stressed that it will not do so at the expense of safety and this latest unfortunate incident will add more pressure to make certain that the autonomous vehicle industry is focused on safety.