An accident in another state influenced Uber, the business originally known for ride-sharing, to pull its fleet of autonomous, or so-called “self-driving” vehicles, from the street of Pittsburgh, at least temporarily. The vehicles were expected to be put back on the street shortly after the investigation in to the accident was concluded.
“Self-driving” is a little bit of a misleading name for these types of vehicles, as they indeed do have operators. However, the operator acts more like an engineer just ensuring the car is functioning properly and, presumably, being ready to take back the controls if necessary. Large commercial jets have actually been operated in this manner for decades now.
The concern over these vehicles being on Pittsburgh’s streets is that the technology might not be quite advanced enough for the cars to be able to avoid collisions on technology alone. In the case of this most recent accident, Uber’s decision was precautionary. The self-driving vehicle was struck by another car, the driver of which was cited in connection with the accident.
Because eventually there will be an auto accident involving a self-driving vehicle that will result in serious injuries or fatality, it is important for Pittsburgh motorists and pedestrians to realize that someone will still have to be held responsible for car accidents caused by these types of vehicles. Whether that someone is the owner of the vehicle, the manufacturer or the operator is to be determined, but injured Pennsylvanians should still have a right to compensation for their losses.
Source: Action 4 News, “Uber pulls self-driving cars off roads in Pittsburgh after accident in Arizona,” March 27, 2017.