Will you even have a choice in the next 10 years?
If this title caught your attention then the autonomous car either made a friend or foe. In the near future, the autonomous car will drive on the roads. For the driving enthusiasts, this means the end of the world. For the rest of us it means we can finally do everything we currently do now while driving but safer. This includes fiddling with the radio, making phone calls, reading, and sleeping. Okay, I was kidding about the last two, but I’m not kidding when I say this will be one of the many perks in the future. This division between pro-autonomous car passengers and everyone else, creates the two sides of the Autonomous car debate.
As law makers and car insurance companies can attest, anytime the thought of a self-driving automobile comes up, they cringe. Safety and liability questions that surround the autonomous car make law makers and insurance companies pensive. Whereas the perks to owning or using an autonomous car make passengers excited.
Unfortunately, the legislators fell behind the curve. For most, this does not come as a surprise. Technology takes giant leaps ahead of everything else, and then everything else slowly catches up to technology.
The autonomous car faces one big hurdle, becoming street legal. As technology continues to push these cars on the road legislators will need to append current laws to address the issues that come with the autonomous car. As with any new commercial product safety is of the upmost importance.
The most concerning safety questions that arise with the autonomous car are the following:
- How will the autonomous car handle the unexpected?
- Who is at fault in an accident: the car or the driver?
- What happens if the autonomous car is corrupted by a computer hacker?
You can see why legislators and insurance companies are having a difficult time.
The first question can be addressed by the computer system that the autonomous car possesses. The 360 degree sensors in the car can detect every movement around the car and determine what to do within seconds.
The other two questions are not as easy to answer. This new territory brings new concerns. However, Ryan Calo, the director for Privacy and Robotics at Stanford Center for Internet and Society was quoted in Popular Mechanics:
“At the end of the day it’s the person in the car or the person that made the car.”
Now, if Ryan Calo is right and blame is put on the manufacturer, for example Google, then Google would be the holder of the insurance policy. This would not only be new, it would be revolutionary for a car or tech company to hold the insurance policy and be held liable for the automobile. Will this happen? The verdict is still not out, but obviously whether it be the driver or the manufacturer, someone will be held liable.
The last question addresses two concerns:
- What happens if the autonomous car was compromised by a computer hacker so the car would drive faster?
- What if the autonomous car was compromised to hurt the passenger inside by speeding the car up to unsafe speeds or to ignore traffic signals?
Truthfully, anyone who knows how these computers work could do harm. There will need to be software in place that can prevent malicious activities similar to Norton Anti-Virus for your computer. Although these questions are concerning, the growing productivity and popularity of these autonomous cars will far exceed any negativity surrounding them.
As was the case with the internet. Most people today use the internet for everything from looking up recipes to banking. Even though fears of identity theft and computer hackers exist, it does not deter people from using the internet. Nor will it deter people from riding in the autonomous car. Once these concerns are addressed and the autonomous car becomes open to the public, there will only be one remaining question:
Will the autonomous car take over normal road travel?
If you turn back the hands of time to the 1980’s, one might have thought the bulkiness and expense of the mobile phone would probably never catch on. Jump ahead to the early 2000’s and that same person probably couldn’t live without their cellphone. The cellphone has evolved so much that in today’s world it is becoming harder and harder to find a non-smartphone. Cellphone makers simply don’t build as many non-smart phones as they once did. The same will happen to the automobile industry. Eventually the autonomous car will be on the road and it will become harder and harder to find cars of the past.