What do Ford, Google, Amazon and Apple have in common? They are all involved in a massive race to create autonomous driving technology, and many people are unaware of just how close self-driving cars are becoming a reality. Autonomous driving may create as many legal problems in the future as the concept claims to solve for the driving public because questions will be raised over whether a driver should be held liable for the actions of a computer acting on their behalf. The Chicago car accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are already tackling these questions in preparation for the inevitability of self-driving technology.
Self-Driving Technology is Already Here
When asked, most people will admit that they feel that the mass production of autonomous vehicles is in the distant future. This conflicts with the reality that many self-driving prototypes already exist and are currently being tested on local roads all around the world. Some governments have even begun to develop correlating technology for highways which can be used to support the current developments being made by Google, Tesla and other major automakers.
Most hands-free driving technology allows drivers to transfer vehicle control over to an autopilot mode while on the highways. This autonomous system takes control in a way that is similar to using cruise control such as applying the brake or turning the vehicle using a steering wheel maneuver. Eventually, a fully autonomous vehicle could be trusted on all roads and under all driving conditions. Even though this technology hasn’t been developed yet, the possibility of vehicles which can drive autonomously in at some level has already been realized.
Nissan and Mobileye are two companies that have promised the ability of vehicles to navigate city traffic by the year 2018. They are competing with Apple, Amazon and a myriad of other technology companies that are all trying to catch up to Google and Tesla. Google’s self-driving vehicles have already made it onto the roads in California, so it is only a matter of time before we see self-driving vehicles from major automakers like Ford, Nissan, Mercedes, Tesla and Audi. Toyota is even rumored to have entered the race.
Who is Responsible for the Actions of a Computer in a Car Accident?
The question of liability for the actions of autonomous vehicles could not be more epitomized through the Fetch feature installed on Tesla self-driving vehicles. This feature activates the vehicle and guides it to the user without any occupants inside. Should the vehicle encounter a pedestrian, motorcyclist or another vehicle and be involved in an accident, who is to blame? Victims deserve monetary compensation if the accident was not their fault, but can you argue that the "driver" is responsible for what his or her car did when they were not even inside at the time of the accident?
Another question that needs to be answered is how investigators can effectively reconstruct the events leading up to an accident if there is a lack of reliable testimony. A computer is unable to provide a reliable recollection of events and cannot report how the opposing party acted prior to collision.
In the event that the vehicle is occupied, how can liability be determined when the vehicle is designed to allow the driver to take his or her attention off the road to focus on other matters? Is the accident the fault of a driver who failed to take control of the vehicle back or the fault of a defective program or machine?
Current technology is designed to alert the driver to take over the wheel immediately, but it is easy for drivers to hide behind claims that the technology did not alert them quickly enough or that control was not transferred in time. Like many of the safety features that have been released in recent years, this technology creates as many questions as it answers and is likely to cause accidents that wouldn’t have taken place had the driver always been in control.
The Importance of Strong Legal Counsel to Represent Your Interests in a Collision With a Self-Driving Vehicle
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is an award winning law firm which has been able to help thousands of clients recover the financial compensation they needed to cover the costs of their medical care and additional expenses following a car accident. Our attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable and able to view any case from all angles in order to answer difficult legal questions.
If you have been in an accident, our Chicago autonomous driving attorneys can give you the greatest chance of collecting the maximum amount of compensation Illinois tort law will allow. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation so that we can review your legal options, answer any questions you may have and let you know how we can help. If we are unable to secure monetary compensation on your behalf for any reason at all, you are assured our services will be free of charge.