On Monday, a female pedestrian died after being hit by a self-driving car operated by Uber in Arizona. The woman is reportedly the first pedestrian killed by an autonomous vehicle on public roads. Thepaper.cn comments:
Uber has announced it is suspending its tests of unmanned vehicles in the United States and Canada. It has even been suggested the accident might have cast a negative effect upon the unmanned vehicle test plans globally.
Some also argue that the vehicle involved in the accident had a human driver, who would take action in emergencies in order to prevent accidents. However, the victim who was pushing a bicycle emerged onto the road out of the dark, and the human driver sitting behind the wheel did not react in time.
Therefore, it might not be the fault of the unmanned driving system alone. Besides, it is too early to conclude that unmanned vehicles are "inherently unsafe" before the investigation reaches its conclusions.
For long, the public has been worrying about the possibility of unmanned driving vehicles getting out of control. They worry that the smart systems controlling the vehicles might fail to react in emergencies, and cause accidents.
Do not forget similar worries had been expressed about 150 years ago when vehicles were first introduced onto the road. People had no less fear of vehicles in the 1800s than they have today of their autonomous incarnations.
The fact is that road order is maintained by traffic lights and the police. However, accidents can never be totally eliminated.
Self-driving cars actually have an advantage over human beings as they never "intentionally" break the rules. Their biggest risk lies in being hacked and remotely controlled, which was not the case in Arizona.
It can be expected that US authorities will implement stricter controls over unmanned vehicles in the near