Toyota had earlier announced its work on automated vehicles and partnered with companies like Uber and Amazon. Earlier this month, Toyota planned to invest up to USD 2.8 billion to develop self-driving vehicles.
Nevertheless, a tragic accident occurred earlier this week, where an autonomous self-driven Volvo XC90 killed 49 year old Elaine Herzberg, becoming the first death occurring as a result of self-driving cars.
The self-driving test procedure is having the car drive by itself with a driver behind the wheel for emergency. The driver involved in this accident was an Uber driver. As a result, Uber announced afterwards that it would be temporarily halting testing of self-driving cars. On Tuesday, Toyota as well announced that it will be suspending the tests of autonomous vehicles on public roads for a while. “We’ve told our drivers to take a couple of days off so we can assess the situation,” said Rick Bourgoise, a Toyota spokesman. However, the company will continue to test autonomous vehicles at enclosed grounds where they present no danger to the public.
Toyota has been working on two systems lately, the “Chauffeur” system which is a fully automated driving system that caused the accident. As well as, “Guardian” which is an advanced system that assists the driver and intervenes if it sensed danger to the life of the driver.
This incident might set back the self-driving a while, where many companies that are conducting the self-driving operation have circled that 2020 is the year that self-driving vehicles would finally be deployed to the market.
Two other carmakers, Ford Motor and General Motors, are still performing tests of their self-driving cars on public roads. Those companies are also racing with Toyota to launch their autonomous vehicles by 2020. General Motors is working towards launching Cruise AV, a car with no steering wheel or pedals. Ford is aiming towards the same to produce a car similar to General Motor’s in mass production by 2021.
Automation has been the center of technology in many industries from weapons to cars. Their danger and benefit is a very controversial topic to the public. Automation, however, is definitely inevitable.