Consider this thought experiment: a woman pushes a bicycle across a busy road at 10 pm. She is struck by a car and dies. Would this event usually generate headlines or cause all driving to be halted? No, because there were more than 5,984 pedestrians killed by cars in 2017 and such an accident would be sad but not unusual.
Now, modify the facts so that the car is self-driving, and is owned by Uber. Yesterday's tragic accident in Tempe, Arizona, killing 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, has resulted in headlines and the suspension of Uber’s self-driving cars in Arizona, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Arizona is a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) testing, and the state has taken a light-touch approach to regulation of self-driving vehicles. This incident points to the need for further scrutiny of those laws – and Australia should take note.