If you have driven or even been a passenger in a late model vehicle, you have likely experienced some level of automation. From the perspective of the driver, trusting automation is often daunting in the beginning, but automation is becoming more popular. As with all emerging technologies, it takes time to get used to change. However, there is an added dimension to the conversation surrounding vehicle automation, in that you are placing your trust in a machine to make all the right decisions in traffic.
Unfortunately, accidents involving self-driving cars have already occurred. A pedestrian was killed in an auto accident in 2018 when she was hit by an Uber self-driving car. These incidents may change the way that victims pursue compensation. Determining whether the driver or manufacturer is responsible for the failure will likely play an important role in any litigation.
Steering Wheel-Free Vehicles
One technology that is set to take off in a major way is the removal of the steering wheel. The vehicle relies on cameras, sensors and other technologies to control steering, with the driver having limited input. Manufacturers are confident that these vehicles are safe and roadworthy, and are already engaged in PR efforts to reassure the general public.
The ultimate goal of automation is to eventually mass produce self-driving vehicles. This process has been planned by implementing six levels of production. For instance, the removal of the steering wheel is part of the level four phase of production. This level specifically deals with vehicles where the removal of “all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.”
Technology is not infallible, which means that automated controls must have an override in the case of an emergency. If something goes wrong, the driver should have the ability to direct the vehicle to the side of the road. As with all motor vehicles, models with any level of automation that takes control out of the hands of the driver are tested by the manufacturer. In an ideal world, these vehicles would never experience a catastrophic failure that contributed to a serious road accident. However, that does not preclude such a scenario from happening.
Automation on our Roads
The fact of the matter is that autonomous cars are already here and aren’t likely to go away. Major manufacturers including GM and Ford are investing heavily in the development of level four automated cars. The race to establish dominance in the market could see large numbers of newer vehicles that eliminate the role of the driver. Uber is also in the process of testing self-driving cars before a potential move that sees the company switching out all their vehicles.
If you have been in an accident due to the failure of automated features in your vehicle, Ligori & Ligori can provide representation. Call our offices today for a free consultation.
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