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Self-Driving Cars Need to Outmaneuver Lawyers



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.

Google Self-Driving Car

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.



  1. Dragos

    05/04/2013 at 12:19 pm

    I’m not sure if the future of self driving cars is too closer, and even is closer we can think in decades about dozen of self driving cars on highways. First, these cars are too expensive, much more expensive than a full electric car. Nissan is the first company that tries to build a

    • Chad Kirchner

      05/06/2013 at 2:37 pm

      I believe the quantities of scale of mass production would bring the cost down. If the people want it, and legal hurdles can be crossed, then I think the development would happen very quickly. But does the general public want it?

  2. aed939

    05/05/2013 at 6:35 am

    Does the Google self-driving car follow instructions from a police officer that is manually controlling an intersection or accident scene?

    • Chad Kirchner

      05/06/2013 at 2:36 pm

      It uses advanced Lidar and cameras as sensors. In theory it could follow police direction at an intersection. If all vehicles were self-driving traffic law enforcement and safety would be a non-issue.

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