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Teamsters Highlight Safety Problems with Autonomous Testing

Pedestrian death highlights gaps in safety, union says.

by on Mar.20, 2018

The Teamsters have been concerned about the impact that autonomous trucks will have on its membership.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters re-iterated its concerns with the ongoing testing and implementation of self-driving technology after an Uber test vehicle in autonomous mode struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The union has been instrumental in the ongoing fight about proposed legislation making it easier to put self-driving cars on public roads.

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The sparring has become a struggle between some biggest car and technology companies in the world against not only the Teamsters but also consumer and safety advocates who argue that the driverless are not yet roadworthy.

“The safety of autonomous technology is not proven, and there are many unanswered questions about how ‘driverless’ technology is supposed to operate. More than 600,000 skilled Teamsters operate trucks and other vehicles and are among the safest drivers on the road. The Teamsters Union is deeply concerned with safety and the testing of vehicles in autonomous mode on public roads and highways,” the organization noted.

(Self-driving Uber test vehicle kills pedestrian. Click Here for the story.)

“It is sad and unfortunate that a life was lost in this collision. Steps must be taken to avoid these situations in the future,” said the Teamsters, which also noted the National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of investigators to the site of the Uber accident in Arizona.

Uber is just one among a number of tech and auto companies competing in the driverless vehicle market.

Uber has since temporarily halted its driverless testing program in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. Last year, Uber suspended the same program after a crash in Arizona.

(Click Here to see why taking Uber to work is cheaper than driving yourself.)

Critics of autonomous vehicles also targeted the lack of safeguards that allow a human to retake control of a self-driving vehicle in an emergency and concerns over hacking, privacy, and cybersecurity.

The legislation would also prevent individual states from adopting tougher rules on self-driving cars. In more than 90% of fatal crashes today, driver error, or miscalculation, is blamed.

The technology skeptics have also gotten a boost this week from the disclosure that millions of Facebook accounts were pilfered and used for a bid to shape political debate across the internet.

(To see more about Uber expanding autonomous truck testing in Arizona, Click Here.)

Most of fire, which appears bi-partisan, is being directed at the big technology companies clustered in Silicon Valley, which, along with carmakers, are staking out a major position in autonomous vehicles.

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