(Reuters) - An Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle struck and killed a woman crossing a street in Arizona on Sunday, the first fatality involving an autonomous vehicle and a potential blow to the technology expected to transform transportation.
The ride services company said it was suspending North American tests of its self-driving vehicles. Safety advocates have called for a national moratorium on the testing of all so-called robot cars on public roads.
Here is a brief look at how the United States and some other countries regulate testing of autonomous vehicles.
- So far, 21 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have enacted legislation related to autonomous vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (here)
- Nevada was the first to authorize operation of autonomous vehicles in 2011.
- Arizona has opened its arms to companies testing self-driving vehicles as a means to economic growth and jobs. Republican Governor Doug Ducey reached out to Uber in 2016 after California regulators cracked down on the company over its failure to obtain testing permits.
- China has issued licenses to automakers that allow self-driving vehicles to be road tested, the state-owned Xinhua news agency has reported. The licenses allow operators to test drive the vehicles on a 5.6-km (3.5-mile) public road in Jiading District of Shanghai, Xinhua said. Shanghai has regulations on road tests for such smart cars and has said it would promote the application and commercialization of vehicles using artificial intelligence technology and internet-linked functions, Xinhua reported.
- South Korea’s transport ministry began the provisional permit system in February 2016 and has approved provisional permits for 41 self-driving cars as of March including 14 for Hyundai Motor Co, two for Kia Motors , and one for Audi-Volkswagen. Audi-Volkswagen is the only foreign company with a provisional permit in South Korea.
South Korea said it was aware of the Uber incident and that it makes “frequent improvements to the permit system and could make changes in light of the incident going forward.”
- In Japan, all vehicles on roads require a driver to be sitting in the driver’s seat, according to the Transport Ministry. As long as someone is in the driver’s seat during an automated driving test and has his or her hands close to the wheel at all times, no special permit is needed to conduct self-driving tests.
A ministry spokesman said of the Uber incident, “We will be following it closely, but it’s too early to say how it will affect our approach to self-driving tests.”
- Singapore requires that all autonomous test vehicles undergo a vehicle safety assessment before they are approved for on-road trials. Test vehicles can only be driven in autonomous mode within an approved test-site. All test vehicles are required to have a qualified safety driver who is ready to take control, until autonomous vehicle trials demonstrate that the technology is ready for fully autonomous operations. All trial participants are also required to have third-party insurance for test vehicles and must share data.
Compiled by Matthew Lewis; Reporting by Joseph White in Detroit, Joyce Lee in Seoul, Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong