Regardless where you stand on the issue of self-driving cars, the technology is developing rapidly. Google has been pioneering self-driving car technology and have a stellar reputation of being safe. Oxford University also has a self-driving car that is iPad controlled.
At a recent conference at Stanford University, people discussed the advancement of self-driving cars and the legal battles they face. Self-driving cars are appealing for several reasons. On average, a human being will have one accident every 160,000 miles. The automobile is the “second-most dangerous consumer product” on sale next to cigarettes, according to consultant Brad Templeton. Robots could potentially save lives by making far fewer mistakes than the average motorist.
Roads are becoming smarter, cars are talking to each other and vehicles have become smarter at avoiding accidents. It is not inconceivable to think that in the near future the cars will be able to drive themselves. But before they are completely self-driving, these advanced vehicles are going to have to live on the same roads that people who do not have self-driving cars will have to live on.
Who is responsible if a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident? Is it the owner of the self-driving car (who was not driving), or is it the manufacturer of the vehicle? What happens if a human driver does something unexpected by the self-driving car and there is an accident? What if that accident could have been avoided by attentive driver instead of a computer driver? That is just the beginning of the legal problems that could be faced by self-driving cars.
In an ideal world, self-driving cars would be perfect and never get into an accident. The reality is that the technology is great, but it is not bug-free. Since these vehicles will have to share the road with normal drivers for the near future, the engineers and the lawyers will have to sort everything out for the technology to become mainstream.