Footage has been released from a crash involving a self-driving Uber and a pedestrian on a highway. This is said to be the first fatality involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian. The (very disturbing) footage shows the presence of a vehicle operator, but the car is operating in autonomous mode, and both driver and vehicle fail to notice the crossing pedestrian. Uber has since suspended its fleet of autonomous vehicles on trial in the United States.
The incident brings to light difficult, yet inevitable legal questions regarding the oncoming rise of autonomous vehicles. While there are claims that it will reduce transport-related fatalities, the question of culpability remains unanswered. A negligent driver can be charged with manslaughter, but what about a vehicle itself, or a company such as Uber? And that’s before we get to the even more complicated ethical dilemmas.