With the rise of innovations across the competitive auto industry, it’s not surprising that vehicle manufacturers have set their sights on developing specialized systems to robotically drive motor vehicles. In fact, several manufacturers have early versions already available or in testing. Other systems are under development, with expected delivery dates in the coming months or years.
Proponents emphasize the ability of “driverless” car systems to reduce road crashes, of which an estimated 90% are caused by human error. Additionally, hands-free driving systems can be particularly beneficial for disabled people, exhausted drivers facing long drives, stressed parents rushing to school and kids’ activities, and individuals stuck in traffic jams.
Automated parallel parking systems are already legal and approved for use. Some “traffic jam assist” systems have the ability to control vehicles in low-speed traffic, taking over acceleration, braking, and steering for the vehicle. The comprehensive “driverless” technology under development is even more impressive — a system that carefully controls all of the key driving functions including speed, breaking, steering, and parking.
Google’s in the Action
Google appears to be leading the market in the development of “driverless” vehicle technology and has partnered with several car manufacturers to put their systems to use. But other manufacturers including BMW, Nissan, GM, and Mercedes-Benz, are developing their own technologies.
Outside of the United States, “driverless” cars are receiving a warm welcome. In Japan, Nissan began testing on the open road in 2013. Sweden has permitted Volvo to test 100 “driverless” cars in 2017. And, beginning this January, the UK is initiating an experiment with “driverless” cars. The commonwealth has set up a fund to test “driverless” cars to better understand how they fit into daily life on the roads.
In the United States, consumers and auto manufacturers may be excited about “driverless” cars, but insurance companies and regulators aren’t quite sure how to handle the new technology. California, Florida and Nevada are among the few states that have approved hands-free driving systems on the roads for testing purposes.
Opponents of “driverless” car systems conclude that these systems are costly, may not function well in poor weather conditions, and leave complex legal issues about vehicle control in accidents. Another complex issue is determining how to program the system in the case where a crash is unavoidable. Because of these concerns, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that it does not expect hands-free driving to be permitted anytime soon.
Answering the Tough Questions
Along with these concerns, a key question arises: Who will be liable if the car is crashed and a human had not been operating it? Is it the responsibility of the car owner, the car manufacturer, the insurance carrier, or the manufacturer of the “driverless” technology?
Although these important questions haven’t been fully debated yet, you can count on Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. to stay at the forefront of “driverless” technology and its regulatory and legal ramifications in the U.S. market.
Do you have questions about driverless cars, personal injuries, or vehicle accidents? Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can answer them. Contact us at (954) 428-9333 or www.goldmandaszkal.com.
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