The Deadly Recklessness of the Self-Driving Industry

Let’s be clear about this, because it seems to me that these companies have gotten a bit of a pass for undertaking a difficult, potentially ‘revolutionary’ technology, and because blame can appear nebulous in car crashes, or in these cases can be directed toward the humans who were supposed to be watching the road. These companies’ actions (or sometimes, lack of action) have led to loss of life and limb. In the process, they have darkened the outlook for the field in general, sapping public trust in self-driving cars and delaying the rollout of what many hope will be a life-saving technology.

  • According to an email recently obtained by the Information, Uber’s self-driving car division may not only be reckless, but outright negligent. The company’s executive staff reportedly ignored detailed calls from its own safety team and continued unsafe practices and a pedestrian died. Before that, a host of accidents and near-misses had gone unheeded.
  • At least one major executive in Google’s autonomous car division reportedly exempted himself from test program protocol, directly caused a serious crash, injured his passenger, and never informed police that it was caused by a self-driving car. Waymo, now a subsidiary of Google, has been involved, by my count, in 21 reported crashes this year, according to California DMV records, though it was at fault in one.

But the fact is, those of us already on the road in our not-so-autonomous cars have little to no say over how we coexist with self-driving ones.

Over whether or not we’re sharing the streets with AVs running on shoddy software or overseen by less-than-alert human drivers because executives don’t want to lag in their quest to vacuum up road data or miss a sales opportunity.

Source: Gizmodo – Brian Merchant


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