How do you feel about driverless vehicles on the road? It is a question you might have to answer sooner rather than later. An article in the New York Times highlights some concerns surrounding technology that enables vehicles to be on the road without help from an actual human being.
Manufacturers would be held responsible for defects in driverless cars that lead to injuries. This falls under product liability law.
But, what happens if a driverless car causes a fatal accident? Who is at fault? Who do you sue for damages?
Even though there is no “driver,” the fault may still fall into the “driver’s” lap or the person in the vehicle at the time the driverless car was operating and led to a fatal accident. There could also be arguments that the blame should be placed on the manufacturer for creating the product that led to the accident.
Another issue that comes into play is the fact that there would essentially be robots on the road. Are we comfortable with placing our safety into the hands of a lifeless object? Some may argue that we rely on technology for everything else, so driving is another step towards our technological future. When we are driving we are in control of the car. Obviously we can’t be in control of our surroundings and other drivers, but it is the most control we have when we are on the road. We relinquish that control when we are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, boat, airplane, or other means of transportation. Could we perhaps look at driverless cars in the same way? No, it’s not another human being, but it is something that officials would find to be safe enough to have human interaction. Hospitals use robotic technology all of the time during surgeries and various procedures. If we are trusting of robots to perform or assist during surgery, a time when we are at our most vulnerable, should we trust robots to control our vehicles? It is a topic that leaves much room for debate.
Google, Car Manufacturers & Driverless Vehicles
Google has been working on driverless vehicles since 2009 and in May 2014 it tested some out on city streets in Mountain View, California. The vehicles are tasked with scoping out other vehicles on the road, pedestrians, and cyclists. Google is still working on driverless vehicles maneuvering into a parking space. It hopes to make driverless vehicles ready by 2017.
Toyota, Ford and GM are teaming up with the University of Michigan to develop a testing site for driverless vehicles. The announcement came on May 6, 2014. Bosch, Xerox and Econolite are also helping the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center’s testing site. The 32-acre site will be a replica of an urban environment including streetlights, sidewalks, traffic lights and signals.
The site is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014. Officials hope that with the development of this site, there is a reduction in traffic, crashes, less pollution and energy use.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.