Would you trust your safety to a self-driving vehicle? It’s likely that a lot more people will be asking themselves that question, as autopilot technology appears to be the wave of the future in the automotive industry.
From a legal perspective, self-driving cars raise questions of liability.
For example, a Florida man recently became the first person to die in a crash involving a vehicle on autopilot, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the design of the technology.
Tesla — the maker of the car — said the vehicle’s autopilot sensors confused the white side of a tractor-trailer with the brightly lit sky, and the technology failed to brake as the large truck turned left in front of the car.
Similar problems have been reported in snowy conditions where the car couldn’t detect the lines on the road.
Additionally, the truck driver claims that the driver of the Tesla was watching a “Harry Potter” movie when the crash happened, although the police report apparently doesn’t mention that detail.
It may drive itself, but it still requires hands on the wheel.
Tesla released a statement saying that the technology instructs drivers to “maintain control and responsibility” for the vehicle while the autopilot feature is activated, and drivers are required to keep both hands on the wheel. The company said that the car will gradually slow down if the driver’s hands are not detected on the wheel and if the driver doesn’t respond to visual and audible alerts.
Of course, product liability is nothing new in the auto industry, and we can expect to see legal issues arise as more people get behind the wheel of self-driving cars. In any case, motorists need to remain alert while driving — whether the wheel is self-turning or not.