An Accident Waiting To Happen

An Accident Waiting To Happen

So it begins – from zero to one – the first recorded death of a pedestrian involved in an accident with a self-driving car operating in autonomous mode.

While the incident remains the subject of on-going investigations, both by the local Police Department in Tempe, Arizona, and the NTSB, in this article Colin Barnden, Principal Analyst at Semicast Research asks: Please can we hit the brakes on this autonomous driving experiment until it has proper regulatory oversight?

The incident raises some basic questions about the capabilities of the autonomous driving system involved. Official reports state the time of the accident to have been about 10pm; with sunset at approximately 6:30pm that day, the vehicle was thus operating at nighttime. This raises the question of the reliability of the vision systems at night and operating under a myriad of combinations of lighting conditions and light sources. Further questions can be asked about the dynamic range of the image sensors used, and their suitability for the inevitable instance of a pedestrian stepping from darkness straight onto an illuminated highway.

Rather than jumping straight to AI, Semicast advocates making humans into better drivers, for example with the mandatory installation of in-car camera-based driver monitoring systems (DMS).