Uber Suspends Self-Driving Test Vehicles Following Phoenix Car Accident

The Associated Press reported last month about a self-driving Uber vehicle that flipped over on its’ side after a vehicle cut in front it. The self-driving Uber was a test vehicle carrying two test passengers. Luckily no one was hurt in the accident. Uber released a statement following this traffic accident that they were temporarily suspending their self-driving program at their three test locations (Phoenix, San Francisco and Pittsburgh), while they investigate the accident.

The question that remain, and most be answered by auto-makers and ride-share companies, is whether these self-driving vehicles are safe. More specifically, would that vehicle have tipped over if there was a human behind the wheel.

This isn’t the first safety issue involving the self-driving vehicles or with Uber in particular. California suspended the self-driving Uber program at the end of last year due a recurrence of the vehicles running red lights.  And last year a Tesla owner died in an car accident, when his vehicle misread a truck in front of it as an overhead traffic sign.

These are issues that make me and lawmakers dubious of self-driving vehicles. One issue that caught my interest from the AP article was that Arizona was only requiring Uber to carry to minimum insurance for its’ test self-driving vehicles, which is $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident. I don’t live in Arizona but I have friends and family who do, and I think it is unconscionable that the state would not require higher limits on self-driving Uber vehicles, when the dangers are so unknown. What if someone would have been seriously injured or had died in that recent accident.? The coverage from Uber’s insurance would not have been able to provide proper compensation to cover the  medical bills, lost wages and serious pain and suffering or loss enjoyment of life.

Many issues remain, and I think it is fair to say the roads are not ready to take on self-driving vehicles.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Self-Driving Tesla Involved in Fatal Traffic Accident

 

Self driving cars are the wave of the future. That is what you will hear from the people at Google and electric car manufacturer, Tesla. Manufacturers state that the technology is foolproof and completely safe. Unfortunately, this may not be true as of yet. News hit the wires over the weekend that a motorist whose Tesla vehicle was on autopilot while driving in Florida, was involved in a fatal car crash with semi tractor trailer.  According to news reports On May 7th at 3:40 p.m. on U.S. in Williston, Florida, 45-year-old Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla Model S went under the trailer of an 18-wheel semi and the roof of his car was torn off by the impact.

According to Tesla’s press release, this is their assessment of what happened:

“Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also responded fatal traffic accident on twitter. He stated that the Tesla’s radar did not detect the truck because of its height, and thus the radar probably confused it with an overhead traffic sign.

This is obviously a sad and tragic event. But it also proves that self driving cars are not immune to car accidents, let alone traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating the accident. How does this event affect the family and/or estate of the deceased driver? Well, if it is found that the truck was at fault for negligently pulling out in front of the deceased, then the truck driver could be held accountable in a normal negligence and wrongful death cause of action. The family could also sue Tesla under a product liability or auto defect count. Their attorneys could plead and argue (with expert testimony) that Tesla’s safety system was defectively designed and built because it could not properly detect the difference between a truck and an overhead highway traffic sign.

Regardless, I believe it is fair to say the self driving vehicles are not completely safe and there may need to be modifications as the technology moves forward.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or from a Chicago auto defect, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Experts Warn Self-Driving Cars Are Not Safe

The Associated Press recently reported on a meeting hosted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding self driving cars. Experts, including multiple engineers, spoke at the meeting and warned officials that self-driving vehicles still pose safety risks. The experts urged the NHTSA to issue regulations on self-driving vehicles as soon as possible as the technology is already been put out on the road unregulated.

James Niles, president of Orbit City Lab, a New York think tank, told the meeting that there is a complete absence of federal regulations and standards to prevent self-driving cars from being turned into weapons by “bad actors.”

“The concern that an autonomous vehicle could be used as a weapon has gone unnoticed by the general public and probably by the majority of government officials,” he said.

Some of the safety issues the experts believe self-driving vehicles cannot handle include:

—Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings.

—Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors.

—Self-driving cars can’t take directions from a policeman.

—Inconsistent traffic-control devices — horizontal versus lateral traffic lights, for example.

“It is dangerous, impractical and a major threat to the public health, safety and welfare to deploy them (self-driving vehicles),” said Mark Golden, executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

It will be interesting to see if and when the NHTSA will react to these concerns and issue regulations. It is clear self-driving cars are not safe to put on the road and they should be restricted until the proper software has been developed along with the much needed regulations.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Are Self-Driving Cars The Wave Of The Future?

The Uk-Telegraph reported
today about an interesting development by auto-makers such as General Motors
who have announced that self-driving cars could be on the market within the
next ten years. 
Nady
Boules, General Motors’ director of electrical and controls integrated
research, stated that most of the requirements for semi-autonomous driving are
already in place. Those features include Radar, Lidar and camera systems, which
provide modern safety features such as blind-spot recognition, lane-departure
warnings and collision mitigation, could go most of the way to equipping a car
that could drive itself on motorways. Boules stated, “
 If you combine these elements and take each of
them to an extreme, we could have a car that can’t crash and a car that can
drive itself.

According
to Boules, fully autonomous self-driving cars could be in the market within the
next 10 years as well. Boules mentioned that the benefits of fully
autonomous self-driving cars are in easing congestion, eliminating traffic
lights and conventional road junctions, as cars will guide themselves through
while avoiding traffic, and the reduction of weight as these “crash-proof”
vehicles will not need crash-safety structures.  

What
I want to know is whether this will it lead to less car accidents. Also, are
people willing to give up the thrill and enjoyment of driving even if it is
safer to let the computers take over.  I think the answer to this is probably not.
Further, GM and other auto makers need to consider the aesthetics of these
vehicles. I think people take more pride in the car they drive and the way it
looks versus the novelty a mini-machine that is run by computer chips. Regardless,
this is an interesting development to follow, especially any research involving
road safety and vehicle accidents

Another issue to consider is what would happen if something in the computer system fails, which causes a traumatic car crash that leads to serious injuries that is of no fault to the driver? Most likely, the auto-makers would be on the hook for the damages based on a product liability claim. Would the auto-makers try to point the finger at the driver in these situation? No doubt this could become an issue and a claim could be tied up in Court while the injured party is left waiting to be compensated for his or her injuries. 

If
you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago car accident or Chicagotruck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant for a
free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at
www.blgchicago.com. 
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