Innovative self-driving vehicle technology has been exciting for many people, but others have been frightened at the possibilities. What if cars that navigate themselves malfunction and cause an accident? What if the technology is never good enough to fully replace human drivers? Whether you are for, against or undecided about self-driving cars, like many Virginians, you may have been interested in seeing how the new technology works out.

Therefore, you were probably dismayed to hear about a recent accident, in which self-driving Uber SUV struck and killed a Tempe, Arizona, woman who was walking her bicycle across the street. Engineers claim the accident should not have occurred, since self-driving technology involves multiple sensors located around the vehicle.

How did the accident happen?

According to preliminary reports, the self-driving SUV was going about 40 miles per hour when it struck the woman, making this the first death involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities are currently investigating the accident to determine how it happened, including data recorded by the vehicle’s mounted dash camera.

How does self-driving technology work?

Tech Crunch explains that autonomous vehicles employ numerous sensors and cameras, including radar and lidar – light detection and ranging sensors – at strategic points around the vehicle to encompass 360 degrees. The system is designed to detect moving and stationary objects, including pedestrians and traffic, as well as traffic signs, lights and lane markings. Additionally, engineers claim that if one element of the system is compromised, the other elements should have been able to compensate and detect the woman crossing the street.

New technology can be exciting, but sometimes it comes at the expense of the safety of innocent people. If you suffered an injury caused by an innovative invention or a negligent driver, you would be within your rights to seek compensation.