Fatality Halts Uber’s Use of Self-Driving Cars in North America
Video of a tragic March 18, 2018 Uber car accident was made public by the Tempe Police Department. The video footage shows a pedestrian waking a bicycle across the street at night, and a different video angle shows the Uber “safety driver’s” startled expression moments before impact. While the video does not show the actual impact, it is a damning portrait of self-driving cars, as it shows just how dangerous they can be. Following this horrific crash, which killed the pedestrian, Uber has pulled all self-driving vehicles from North America. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating.
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Self-Driving Vehicles: Levels of Autonomous Operation
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) designates a system of classification for automation of automobiles. According to SAE, there are six technical classifications:
The driver is 100% in control of driving the vehicle.
Automation of acceleration and deceleration only. All vehicles since 2012 have actually qualified as Level 1 because they have stability/traction control. Likewise, cruise control counts as Level 1. All other functions must be human-operated.
Automation of acceleration, deceleration, and wheel control. Most of the cutting edge self-driving technology we see on the road today would only reach level 2. The Uber Volvo involved in the March 18, 2018 crash would be level 2 automation. Likewise, parking assist features (cars that can parallel park without the human operator controlling the wheel, brake, or acceleration) also qualify as level 2 automation.
A human on board, but not doing anything. This level of automation still requires a human on board to maintain oversight of the vehicle, but the car maps out and drives without any assistance of a human.
Driver Optional. At level 4, a vehicle still has all the parts (wheel, gas pedal, brakes, etc.) for a human to drive it, but the car can operate without any human interaction at all.
Whether probable or not, BMW has plans to put a level 5 self-driving car on the road by 2025. A fully autonomous vehicle would have no steering wheel, no brake pedal, and none of the traditional controls you would expect to see in a car. Aside from plugging in coordinates or a destination address, these vehicles would not require any human control.
A Brief History of Automation
Auto technology has always created controversy. As early as the summer of 1908, the city of Detroit saw over 30 crash-related deaths associated with gas-powered cars. Vehicles were considered a genuine threat to public safety. For decades, America struggled to figure out how to control traffic and improve vehicular safety. There were concerns about each improvement, from cruise control to power steering. Each little piece of automation raises a new concern. Self-driving vehicles may just be the latest in the long history of vehicle automation that Americans will have to learn how to manage.
Long Island Car Accident Lawyers
For those who are seriously injured or lose a loved one due to the negligence of another person on the road (or a faulty autonomous vehicle), it can be heartbreaking to fight with an insurance company for desperately needed compensation, especially at a time when income is tight, a breadwinner is out of work, and medical bills are piling up. The Long Island car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP work hard every day to protect the rights of injury victims throughout NYC and Long Island. Call us 24/7 at (866) 580-1960 to schedule a completely free consultation to discuss your case or contact us online.