Self-driving cars have failed to inspire the enthusiasm with which they were first regarded, when they were just far-off components of a futuristic society. The reality of their arrival has presented several issues, from their unreliability to their ability to destroy thousands if not millions of jobs in the transport industry.
With skepticism and fear growing around the concept, any slip ups would be heavily scrutinized. Yesterday, reports emerged that a woman crossing the street was struck and killed by an self-driving Uber in Tempe, Arizona. Uber itself is a controversial company; it has been criticized in the past of an impersonal, calculating approach to what is fundamentally a service-oriented business. It has been said to cultivate a culture of ‘genius assholes’ who introduce technology for capital gain rather than an enhanced consumer experience.
The marriage of a fatal autonomous vehicle incident and Uber makes it an especially sensitive issue. Uber has already suspended its self-driving service. Authorities are investigating whether or not, and how, the technology was at fault, and will publish a report detailing their findings. Until then, the entire industry, which had been tipped by venture capitalists to have multi-billion dollar potential, hangs in limbo.