The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that no penalties will be assessed against an autonomous truck manufacturer in connection with an April 2022 accident. The road safety agency launched its investigation after video footage was leaked that showed a TuSimple autonomous truck swerve across Interstate 10 and strike a concrete median near Tuscon. The company initially blamed the crash on human error, but it later conceded that a technical malfunction also played a role.
Sharp left turn
The video footage of the accident, which was released by an anonymous individual who claimed to work for TuSimple, was a taken by a camera mounted in the self-driving vehicle’s cab. It shows the human driver monitoring the autonomous technology struggling to control a sharp left turn the truck made without warning from the center lane of Interstate 10. The TuSimple test vehicle was traveling at approximately 65 mph at the time of the incident, and it narrowly missed a pickup truck in the left lane as it veered across the highway. The FMCSA says that its investigation into the accident is now closed.
Autonomous vehicle accidents
There has been more than a dozen motor vehicle accidents involving vehicles with advanced autonomous driving systems in Arizona since July 2021. The Grand Canyon State is a popular destination for autonomous vehicle testing, which may explain why self-driving vehicles crash so often in the state. TuSimple were testing their autonomous truck on a highway when this accident occurred, but Uber and Google sister company Waymo test their self-driving taxis in Phoenix and other densely populated urban areas.
The rash of accidents involving autonomous vehicles suggest that auto manufacturers are taking unnecessary risks because they want to bring transformative technology to the market before their competitors. Pioneering companies often dominate emerging markets for decades, so this haste is understandable. However, stricter regulations are needed if vehicles controlled by unproven and potentially dangerous technology are being tested on public roads.