Following the news that an autonomous Uber hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona during testing on March 18, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Imeche) has made a statement. Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering stated, “This tragic event serves to draw attention to the challenges of incorporating autonomous vehicles into an incumbent system operating with manned vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users.
“Uber are right to suspend their trials of autonomous vehicles until the cause of this accident is fully understood. In 2016 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in our Case Study on Autonomous and Driverless Cars raised the need to address societal questions before highly and fully automated cars are both accepted and legally able to be positioned on our roads; this will include having the right regulatory framework in place.
“Engineers will need to create an environment where connected autonomous vehicles can operate safely with or without an operator during the transition period to a fully autonomous vehicle system. This transition period could last for several decades.”