Toyota halts driverless trials after fatal Uber crash
Japanese car giant says accident may have ‘emotional effect’ on test drivers
Toyota has called off trials of its driverless cars on US roads following a fatal accident between an Uber autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian in Arizona on Sunday.
The Japanese car giant said it decided to pull the trials due to the “emotional effect” that news of the fatality may have on its human test drivers, who are required to travel inside the company’s driverless cars in case of an emergency.
It’s not yet known when Toyota will restart its “Chauffeur” autonomous trials, says Engadget, nor whether the car firm will “review” the technology first.
The move “could put pressure” on other automotive firms operating driverless vehicles, such as Google’s Waymo and Tesla, to cease trials while the fatal accident is under investigation, the Financial Times reports.
However, two major US carmakers, Ford and General Motors, have stated that they will continue their autonomous driving programmes, the FT says.
According to the BBC, the Uber incident is the first fatality involving a driverless car. The victim, Elaine Herzberg, 49, was reportedly walking across a street in Tempe when she was struck by the vehicle.
Experts believe autonomous cars could potentially reduce accidents, but some are concerned the tech “is not ready” yet for public trials, and have urged regulators to phase in “more stringent safety tests”.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg says Toyota had been planning a collaboration with Uber to develop autonomous technology.
An image of Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi and Toyota president Akio Toyoda at the car company’s headquarters in Tokyo emerged on Twitter before the accident, the news site says. No details of the partnership have been disclosed.