Self-driving vehicles have become the forefront of the technology boom in the last couple of years. Currently, Tesla and Google are most widely known for their self-driving cars. Cities all across the U.S. have opened up their roads for self-driving cars to be tested and perfected. Rhode Island and Massachusetts have opened up some of their roads to these independent cars but have started putting regulations in place to increase safety for other drivers. More than half of people surveyed by the Delft University of Technology saw self-driving cars as the future. It is estimated that more than half of the private transportation vehicles will be autonomous by 2050.
Recent Problems and Risks for Self-Driving Vehicles:
The first self-driving car fatality happened earlier this year on May 7th. A formal investigation has been opened into the crash in Williston, Florida. The automated system malfunctioned and didn’t break as a trailer tractor made a left turn in front of the Tesla. Sensors, along with the computer software and cameras should have picked up the obstacle and braked. Tesla says that this was the first accident in the total 130 million miles that their cars have driven on roads. The problem was that the bright white paint on the trailer against the sun prevented the car’s sensors from picking it up, the car reportedly continued to drive for another fourth of a mile after the accident occurred.
With new technology, there are bound to be glitches. For example, with each new iPhone, there are upgrades and software updates to improve glitches that were found. The main problem is that if you iPhone malfunctions, then you will be alright, but if you vehicle forgets to break, slow down or follow road laws more accidents will occur. Lives should not have to be at risk while self-driving cars are figuring out the glitches. Self-driving vehicles become more popular; car buyers need to be more conscious of the safety factors that a self-driving has or doesn’t have. Some of these vehicles do not have steering wheels or pedals so that the passenger cannot manually take over the vehicle.
Legislation on self-driving vehicles:
- Autonomous cars are so new to roads that there aren’t many regulations in place to cover there. Google, Inc. requested that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards be interpreted as they design and develop vehicles. Each state has its regulations regarding insurance requirements and sets forth its rules and regulations for vehicle insurance. States that have allowed self-driving vehicles onto their roads have had to be more specific in legislation concerning liability and insurance of these cars. Most of the states that approved self-driving vehicles have implemented regulation which can vary but can include as follows:
- The “driver” of the vehicle (person sitting in the car) need to have proper training by the manufacturer
- Drivers must be able to take over control of the car at any time
- This is particularly challenging because Google has stated that they have had trouble making technology that can do this seamlessly
- Some insurance needs to be in place by the manufacturers
- Manufacturers must show proof of extensive testing and that the vehicles can comply with all traffic laws.