Tech giant Google just landed a huge head start in the race to get the first self-driving car on the road. Ahead of Tesla, Apple, Uber and Lyft, Google was just given a nod by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying that artificial intelligence may one day be considered a ‘driver’- “if no human occupant of the vehicle can actually drive the vehicle, it is more reasonable to identify the ‘driver’ as whatever (as opposed to whoever) is doing the driving.” What an interesting description. Who would have ever thought that we would one day live in a world where a “driver” of a vehicle was actually a computer? Vanity Fair just wrote a great article on this topic and the tech race for driverless cars.
As injury attorneys we can’t help but wonder; who would be at fault in the instance of an accident with a driverless car? Generally in car wreck cases we are able to determine through discovery evidence of parties or witnesses what happened to cause a collision. How are we going to take the deposition of a…..robot? Will this make our jobs more straightforward because we will be able to review computer data from these driverless cars to learn the chain of events prior to a wreck? Or, will this make our job more burdensome because now we will have to learn complex computer programming or data records to begin to understand the sequence of events leading up to a wreck? Further, in a personal injury lawsuit who do we sue? Is it the owner of the car, the car manufacturer, the owner of the computer software or owner of the computer coding? Is it the developers of the software or code? These are interesting questions that will require our current laws to evolve with this new social invention.
With all of these questions, one thing we know for sure is that the introduction of the driverless car will undoubtedly revolutionize transportation and the laws that regulate it.
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Photo Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam