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A Look at the Self-Driving Vehicle Industry

Research and development of self-driving cars continue to move forward. The idea of being able to multitask while commuting eliminates the need for driver’s education. It also possibly lowers the amount of driver error resulting in car accidents. This leads car manufacturers to keep working toward the right technology and equipment to make self-driving cars a reality.

But with self-driving cars comes entirely new challenges relating to car accidents. For example: When a self-driving car causes an auto accident, is the car’s owner at fault? What about the car manufacturer that programmed and equipped the artificial intelligence to react to such situations?

One of the top proponents of self-driving cars, also known as autonomous cars, is the rideshare industry. But with the concept of self-driving cars comes an even more complicated question of liability in Uber accidents. Now, three parties could potentially be liable when an accident occurs:

  • Uber
  • The car manufacturer
  • Other drivers

However, it doesn’t look like the concept of self-driving cars is going away anytime soon. In fact, Florida law strives to make the state an attractive place to test and eventually market self-driving cars. Let’s take a look at Florida’s self-driving car laws and what you need to know about hiring a car accident lawyer in Florida if you find yourself involved in an accident with these robotic vehicles.

Florida Law on Self-Driving Cars 

In 2012, the Florida legislature passed a law allowing car manufacturers to test self-driving cars in Florida. At the time, the law required that a licensed driver sit in the driver’s seat at all times when on public roads. That driver had to have the power to take over for the vehicle’s artificial intelligence system in case the driver sensed the robotics were going to make a poor driving decision.

The law also stated that there needed to be indicators in the driver’s seat to inform the licensed driver in case any of the car’s systems were malfunctioning. This was designed to prevent accidents while testing the cars and make the driver aware of any defects.

Florida provided an Autonomous Vehicle Report detailing this law in 2012. With that report, it presented evidence as to the safety of these self-driving cars and the importance of Florida being a state friendly to such development.

Seven years later, Florida’s governor signed a new bill updating Florida’s law for self-driving vehicles. On July 1, 2019, there was no longer a requirement that self-driving cars have a licensed driver able to take over for the vehicle in case something goes wrong. The governor signed the bill stating that he wanted Florida to be a leader in the self-driving space. Additionally, the law made it legal for all people present in a self-driving car to text and browse their smartphones while in motion. 

What Florida’s Self-Driving Car Laws Mean for You

What you should know about Florida’s law allowing self-driving cars without an operator is that they are only permitted for Level 4 and 5 self-driving cars. The law specifically states that the cars must be “equipped with an automated driving system designed to function without a human operator.”

Cars that fit this criterion do not yet exist outside of testing facilities. So, now that self-driving cars are legal in Florida without a licensed driver at the wheel, how concerned should you be about your safety?

In March 2018, an Uber accident involving an autonomous car made headlines making many drivers uneasy about self-driving cars. The accident involved a pedestrian who was tragically killed by the self-driving car. 

How safe are you on Florida’s roads with self-driving cars being tested out there? Let’s take a look at the top contenders for self-driving cars and where they’re at in the development process, according to Intelligent Mobility Xperience.

Waymo (A Division of Google)

Waymo has 32 million kilometers of testing time with their vehicles on active roads and another 16 billion miles in simulation testing. It has a fleet of autonomous cars operating as taxis in Phoenix. Most of these cars have backup drivers at the front of the car while these vehicles continue to be tested. These cars are considered level 4 for self-driving cars, though the company has level 5 cars in the research and development phase as well.

General Motors

GM has 180 self-driving cars in its fleet. So far, these cars have 1.6 million kilometers or 1 million miles worth of on-road experience. Given GM’s history of development and experience, expect them to be a leader in the self-driving car experience. 

Argo AI (A Division of Ford)

Argo AI is a division of Ford that has been working on building a self-driving car. Currently, the company has 100 cars being tested in six cities throughout the country. The company is not as focused on developing cars as much as it is focused on the technology behind self-driving cars. As a result, many other car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and GM, have invested billions of dollars into Argo AI development.

Tesla

Tesla’s cars already on the roads are some of the most advanced when it comes to autonomous features. The manufacturer’s cars come equipped with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems as a standard feature. 

The company’s owner – Elon Musk – committed to having one million fully autonomous level 5 cars on the roads by the end of 2020. As we near the end of 2020, this feat is looking highly unlikely.

Baidu

A Chinese company named Baidu has 300 test vehicles on roads with 1.8 million miles of experience. These cars operate in 23 cities. Much like Google, Baidu currently has a robotic taxi service to test its vehicles and get the public more comfortable with this idea. The cars are classified as level 4 autonomous vehicles and the company does not anticipate having level 5 vehicles available until 2025.

When to Hire a Florida Car Accident Attorney for a Self-Driving Car Accident

As development for self-driving cars continues, it’s a good idea to know your rights. Florida’s laws are very friendly toward self-driving cars, which might mean you need a Florida car accident attorney if you’ve been involved in an accident with one of these cars.

Just like human drivers can make judgment errors behind the wheel, so can artificial intelligence computers. If you’re facing legal challenges related to a car accident of any kind, contact Goldman & Daszkal. For more information, reach out and schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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