Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Driver Assist Technology

Questions remain about responsibility for driverless car accidents.

The New York Times (5/13, Miller, Subscription Publication, 9.65M) reports in its “Upshot” blog that while mainstream use of driverless car technology approaches, one of the larger questions about the technology is – who is responsible when something goes wrong? Experts and lawyers say “current liability laws already provide some guidance” and four states plus the District of Columbia have passed legislation specific to the vehicles. Additionally, the cars themselves could “make reconstructing accidents and assigning blame in lawsuits more clear-cut because the car records video and other data about the drive,” according to inventor Sebastian Thrun. Brookings Institute scholar John Villasenor said insurance companies may even reward those who have driverless cars. However, the Times says “people’s own visceral fears of robots” could be a bigger obstacle than legal disputes and those fears could be exacerbated by the first deadly accident involving the vehicles.
        Google shows off self-driving car. USA Today (5/13, della Cava, 5.82M) reports Google held a press day yesterday to answer questions about its self-driving car and give the media a chance to ride in one. Engineers showed off how the vehicles integrate the use of digital maps and on-board sensors to safely navigate streets. Project director Chris Urmson and other panelists highlighted the technology’s potential for greatly reducing traffic accidents, while one expert said one of the largest questions unanswered is who would be responsible for an accident. Other significant issues with the cars included “the high cost of the technology, its sensitivity to hackers who might reprogram a car’s route, and serious weather.”

        Reuters (5/13, Oreskovic) reports Google’s event was its largest effort to date to provide an up-close look at its vehicles. The company did not say when the cars will be available or indicate whether it would produce the vehicles itself or license its technology to automakers. 

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