Will other automakers suspend self-driving tests as a result of the fatal Uber crash?
The recent fatal Uber crash, in which a self-driving Volvo XC90 failed to avoid hitting a pedestrian in Arizona as they crossed the road, has no doubt resparked debate about autonomous car technology and whether it should be tested on public roads at this stage. Currently, automakers like Toyota and Ford are trialing the technology for self-driving services, but the crash has unsurprisingly caught the attention of car manufacturers. Following the deadly crash, Toyota has suspended tests of its “Chauffeur” autonomous driving system on U.S. roads.
In an email sent to Bloomberg, a Toyota spokesman provided a reason for the suspension. “Because we feel the incident may have an emotional effect on our test drivers, we have decided to temporarily pause our Chauffeur mode testing on public roads,” spokesman Brian Lyons said. Toyota has been conducting self-driving tests in Michigan and California. While the spokesman wouldn’t specify how many cars are being tested, the number is said to be small so they can be rapidly updated as the technology evolves.
Toyota refused to speculate on the cause of the Uber crash or the ramifications it could have for the future of autonomous driving. The accident happened just days after reports stated Toyota and Uber were planning to collaborate on autonomous driving systems. Details about the collaboration are slim, but a Toyota spokesman said no decision has been made whether the brand will purchase Uber’s autonomous software. Lyons also stated Toyota “does not have first-hand information on the tragic traffic fatality.”