The Truth About Cars wrote a very good article in response to the recent Uber robo car killing the woman crossing the road in the dark:
The victim, Elaine Herzberg, does indeed cross directly into the path of the oncoming Volvo XC90 and is visible for a fleeting moment before the strike, but the vehicle’s lidar system should have seen her well before that. Any claims to the contrary are irresponsible.
Uber’s autonomous hardware should have seen the woman even in pitch black.
The approach was straight and Herzberg was already in the street, having crossed at least one lane before impact. Lidar is supposed to be the golden goose for autonomous technology, allowing for digital imaging beyond what the human eye is capable of. But it completely failed in this instance
The government has offered almost no oversight in the hopes that self-driving cars will get here sooner. But critics have suggested this is wildly irresponsible, as it operates almost entirely upon a company’s good faith.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only mandates a “Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment” of autonomous vehicles. Thus far, only two organizations have bothered produce one — General Motors and Google’s Waymo.
While it would be prudent to hold companies to a higher standard than the federal government seems willing to do, autonomous vehicles may still be the best defense against drunk or utterly inept driving.
That said, they may also set the stage for a dystopian future where manual driving is illegal, companies endlessly advertise to you in-car, and hackers can assume total control of your vehicle. The point is that practically every subtle aspect of the tech is being ignored while the market attempts to get it ready lickety-split.
None of these issues are being addressed and safety checks have fallen by the wayside.
here is the location, at the time of the collision, and days later, to show you what a dark video was on the Uber dash cam, vs what you or I would see there in person