Uber Launches Self Driving Cars
Uber Launches Self Driving Cars – Pilot Program
I’m Ed Smith, a Roseville auto accident attorney. The prospect of passengers in cars relying on automated driving systems rather than other people is already upon us. Uber has just launched a pilot program that will see four vehicles provide rides to app users throughout the city. The goal is two-fold: reduce labor costs and, one might surmise, combat the growing litigation regarding the employment status of Uber contractors. Looks like the innovative company wants to see if they can eliminate contract drivers all together.
Existing Car Accident Liability Standards
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2014 there were more than 32,675 fatal collisions. In most cases, this means that one or more drivers is at fault for the accident due to speeding, distracted driving, driving while intoxicated or some other set of factors. They or their insurers are responsible for covering the costs of injuries, property damage and more. What happens when a company launches an autonomous (driverless) fleet of vehicles?
When Autonomy is Incomplete, Where Does the Blame Rest?
Do existing legal standards cover autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles? Maybe.
Currently, because the driver remains in ultimate control of the vehicle, they will still be responsible for the actions of it. They can intercede if a situation becomes unsafe. Yet, as fully-autonomous tractor trailers in Europe show, the future is rapidly approaching and could be less than three years out in some cases. The four in Pittsburgh are the most recent example.
Watch the Youtube Video that follows – Go For a Ride in Uber’s Autonomous Car:
Will Companies Risk Liability in the Future?
Automakers like General Motors already make so many vehicles that when one ignition system is recalled, it can cost the company tens of millions. Volkswagen is another example with the diesel emissions scandal.
Most of those did not result in severe injuries or deaths, at least in the short term. Autonomous vehicles are much different. Not only must they operate in a way that is safe to the occupants of that vehicle but also the surrounding property and people.
The Future of Autonomous Vehicles
Does a company like Google need to follow a utilitarian philosophy? If an impending collision could kill 10 pedestrians, are they more important than two occupants? For now, Uber is getting around that by still including engineers who can override the system.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that Uber is using Pittsburgh to test their program because it is considered the “double black diamond” of cities, a reference to the most difficult ski trails. There are numerous bridges, pedestrians and other distractions that can confuse sensors. It will be interesting to monitor the results of Uber’s pilot program.
Roseville Car Accident & Autonomous Vehicle Injury Attorney
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