Although it still is early in the news cycle, so far we know from Tempe police reports that an Uber robot has murdered a women.
The Uber vehicle was reportedly headed northbound when a woman walking outside of the crosswalk was struck.
The woman was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries.
Tempe Police says the vehicle was in autonomous mode at the time of the crash and a vehicle operator was also behind the wheel.
Take special note of framing this as “walking outside of the crosswalk” as that is historically how the automobile industry has exonerated drivers who murder pedestrians. The crosswalk was developed specifically to shift blame away from drivers going over 12 mph, enabling faster speeds by reducing driver accountability to watch for the most vulnerable people in a roadway.
Vox has an excellent write-up on how “walking outside of the crosswalk” really is “forgotten history of how automakers invented”…a crime:
…the result of an aggressive, forgotten 1920s campaign led by auto groups and manufacturers that redefined who owned the city streets.
“In the early days of the automobile, it was drivers’ job to avoid you, not your job to avoid them,” says Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia and author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. “But under the new model, streets became a place for cars — and as a pedestrian, it’s your fault if you get hit.”
We’re repeating history at this point, and anyone who cites crosswalk theory in defense of an Uber robot murdering a pedestrian isn’t doing transit safety or security experts any favors. Will be interesting to see how the accountability for murder plays out, as it will surely inform algorithms intending to use cars as a weapon.