NEWSBYTE: Toyota has suspended testing its Chauffeur driverless car system on US roads.
The move follows the death of a pedestrian who was hit by an autonomous Uber car in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday evening.
Chauffeur is Toyota’s fully-autonomous, hands-free driving mode, which allows passengers to travel without needing to take the wheel.
The Uber car which struck and killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, was a Volvo that was travelling autonomously with a safety driver onboard.
Uber suspended its own US driverless car tests on Monday after the fatality, which came almost exactly a year after another Uber Volvo was involved in a three-vehicle collision in Tempe.
After Sunday night’s incident, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a Twitter post: “Some incredibly sad news out of Arizona. We’re thinking of the victim’s family as we work with local law enforcement to understand what happened.”
Toyota had been performing public tests of its self-driving fleet in Michigan and – like Uber – in California. The Japanese manufacturer is also thought to be in talks with Uber to join forces on autonomous systems development.
“We cannot speculate on the cause of the incident or what it may mean to the automated driving industry going forward,” said Toyota’s Brian Lyons in a statement to Bloomberg.
“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.”
Internet of Business says
While the decision to pause testing is both understandable and laudable, the reason provided is interesting. Rather than citing respect for the dead woman or her family, or the safety of the technology and any potential danger it may pose to the public, Toyota has expressed concern that the Uber incident will affect its test drivers.
That’s undoubtedly true, but it’s an error of judgement to put the feelings of test drivers above those of the victim’s family, or any worries the public may have about the technology itself.
Damage limitation would seem to be the order of the day, when the industry ought to be thinking about the human cost and focusing on what went wrong.