Thanks to all the latest technologies and immense processing power available in a small form factor, self-driving cars could become a reality in the near future. Ever since the inception of passenger cars, self-driving was always the most sought feature. And cars like Tesla Model Y and Cadillac Escalade already come equipped with semi-autonomous driving tech. However, self-driving cars bring with them a lot of implications, especially in terms of safety and legal regulations. Before they become a reality, business laws may be affected. And it will take for the whole industry and society, in general, to shift and adjust itself to this new paradigm.
Lawmakers are still unsure about the accountability factor of autonomous cars in case of any collisions or unforeseen incidents. With fully autonomous vehicles in the pipeline, even the driver can be classified as a passenger, contributing nothing to the driving experience. And thus self-driving cars will have to abide by a different set of laws with certain bans in some situations. Implementing updated business laws can also limit technological advancements like self-driving to a certain limit, taking more time to roll out.
Determining Who’s At Fault
In the case of most standard vehicle collisions, the person or persons at fault can be easily determined. However, the same cannot be said in the case of autonomous vehicles. Determining who’s at fault, in this case, can also include the developers who created the AI, the manufacturer of the vehicle, and more. Not only will this make it harder to determine fault, but it will also affect insurance claims.
Another factor to consider is the driver’s role in the whole process. In the case of fully autonomous driving, the driver can be considered as a passenger, questioning legality when not holding the steering wheel. In any case, removing human operators from driving will bring a set of new legal implications which have yet to be figured out.
Thanks to Advanced Machine Learning and AI tech, self-driving cars can be generally considered safer than their human counterparts, especially if all the vehicles on the road are networked. But, in the case of collisions between self-driving cars and human drivers, the regulatory transition will be difficult.
NHTSA has already released its views on the subject, stating that the dangers of new self-driving tech balance the risk against human drivers. When it becomes the norm, it has the potential to save lives and fuel by a considerable margin. The agency has also revealed 15 safety assessments for developers of self-driving car tech, covering various factors including data recording, crashworthiness, and even existential & ethical problems. This also means that these tech aids will have to be assessed by the agency and put through a lot of tests before being considered roadworthy. This also increases the deployment time for driverless cars.
However, we still have a long way to go before shifting to autonomous cars. Governments also play a vital role in the transition, updating road infrastructure with sensor-driven traffic management and smarter roads. With a network of self-driving cars, traffic lights will become redundant, leading to quicker and more efficient commute times. For all these systems to work efficiently in tandem, low-latency networks will be required along with the necessary hardware.
Cities will have to evolve before transitioning to self-driving cars on a large scale. Smart cities will be the next biggest and most expensive challenge. Several cities have already started their journey to achieve this goal. Cities like Atlanta have already built a dedicated network to implement this tech.
The shift to self-driving will also require several policy changes to integrate safeguards and give a boost to companies that focus on this tech.
How Do You Define Driverless Cars?
The current US automotive market offers a wide range of driver assistance and semi-autonomous driving technologies. In total, there are 6 levels of autonomous driving tech. Level 0 will include no automation, while the highest level 5 vehicles can drive themselves with no human intervention. So far, we have reached level 3 automation.
Advanced driver assistance aids like automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more can be defined as semi-autonomous driving tech.
Companies like Google have started to acquire IP rights and start-up companies like Waymo to explore this area. While progress in this arena has slowed down owing to the pandemic, manufacturers will still have to jump through several hurdles and legal frameworks.
Advantages Of Self-Driving Cars And How They Can Improve Our Lives
Thanks to their fast decision-making skills and networking, self-driving cars can travel at much higher speeds with minimal risk. By communicating through the internet, cars can travel efficiently and safely at speeds as high as 200 MPH.
In some cases, self-driving cars can be 10 times as safe as human drivers. This will broaden their applications and can even be used for business class travel as a replacement for aircraft.
Moral Implications To Consider
With all its advantages, self-driving technology will bring a lot of moral implications with it. For instance, they can take away millions of jobs like taxi drivers, leading to an increase in the unemployment rate. This will eventually lead to a disruption of economic growth.
More than cars, the technology will also find its way to commercial applications like truck driving and big rigs, causing an even bigger dent in the economy. Hundreds of thousands of businesses will be affected by this shift. In this case, business laws will need to be altered to change employment opportunities for affected drivers. Self-driving cars will also affect service industries with companies like Uber, taking over local taxis and transportation.