Driverless cars – coming sooner than you think

Driverless cars once were found only in the pages of science fiction novels, but these days it’s not a question of if they’ll be on our roads but when.

And with South Australia recently passing laws to allow trials of driverless cars on the road it’s clear that they will be seen on our roads sooner rather than later.

Who’s to Blame When a Driverless Car Crashes?

The new technology brings with it some thorny legal and ethical questions that need to be thought through by legislators and the public alike.

For example, who’s to blame if a driverless car causes a crash? The owner of the car? The makers of the car?

To overcome uncertainty over liability for driverless car crashes, car manufacturer Volvo has recently said that it will accept full liability for accidents that involve its driverless cars. Google has also said the same thing. Read this BBC report on how legislators around the world are grappling with this issue.

But how safe are driverless cars?

In a recent study of the safety record of self-driving cars, researchers from the University of Michigan come to a surprising — and seemingly paradoxical — conclusion: self-driving cars get in more accidents, per million miles traveled, than conventional vehicles.

Yet so far, every single accident involving a self-driving car has been the fault of the person driving the other car. You can read the full report here.

Overcoming the Hurdles to Widespread Adoption

However, despite the great leaps forward in terms of the technical operation of driverless cars, it may be a while before we see their widespread adoption. Not only the legal issues will have to be resolved, but also there will no doubt be other social, economic and political factors that may pose hurdles to their introduction. For more information on this topic check out this article on the five big tests that driverless cars will have to pass.

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