Are U.S Consumers Ready for Driverless Cars?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Dec 19, 2013 in Local

As technology continues to flood the lives of Americans some of us are still waiting for hoverboards while others look forward to driverless cars. In 2005 a project by a team at Stanford that included a Google engineer created the first robotic vehicle. From there the Google driverless car became a project that involved developing technology for autonomous cars.

In 2011 Nevada passed a law that permitted the operation of autonomous cars; in 2012 Florida became the second state to allow the testing of such vehicles on public roads and then California the third to legalize the use of self-driven cars for testing purposes.

Although states and Google are pushing for the use of driverless cars, tort law could kill it before consumers get a chance to use them. Since the mid-2000s Toyota has been fighting hundreds of complaints in regards to its vehicles ability to unintentionally accelerate. The company is now moving toward a global settlement of cases.

In October a single case involving a 76 year old driver was settled after Toyota was found at fault for their electronic throttle control. Michael Barr, a software expert who testified in the case Any reasonably complex software has bugs. According to the Wall Street Journal.

Furthermore, since 2002 when Toyota introduced electronic throttle control billions of driving hours have been logged in order to find hundreds of cases against the electronic throttle. It is likely that many manufacturers will not want to risk being hit with lawsuits and will likely steer clear of driverless cars.

Additionally, Google has supposedly racked up more than 500,000 accident-free miles which in no way compares to the billions traversed by Toyota drivers since 2002. However, Google also revealed that in 2011 a human-controlled Google driverless car was involved in a car crash in California and although they stated the vehicle was being driven manually, could a glitch have caused the collision?

It will likely take much more testing and many more vehicular laws for driverless cars to become available to consumers.

 

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