Technology is relevant to everyone. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or rocket scientist to feel the impacts of technological advancements. The reality is that with every upgrade, society as a whole takes a step forward and welcomes in a new technique or machine. While we never know what the future will look like, we always make some educated guesses.
There are many technologies experts expect to see readily available in the future. Among those robot assistants and instant meals – self-driving cars are a distinct possibility. There are many companies all around the world looking into this technology. In just a couple of years, you could own your very own autonomous vehicle.
What are self-driving cars?
What exactly are these autonomous vehicles? The term refers to automobiles that can drive themselves. They use a complex assortment of sensors and AI programs to evaluate the world around them and navigate the roads. They operate as a function of known road regulations and priorities to avoid collisions.
Autonomous vehicles are not merely cars with a pre-loaded template of driving regulations. These sophisticated machines calculate several different data points to determine the legal (and safest) course of action.
Are autonomous cars allowed on the road?
Believe it or not, there are already autonomous cars being driven all around the world. They aren’t allowed everywhere, though. Some cities preapproved “testing” cars for some companies. Most notably, Uber received permission to test drive several of these cars in various cities in the U.S.
However, it’s important to note that their permits require that a human driver “supervises” the drives and is available in the car for backup.
This event is not the first time that U.S. roads experienced the wonders of AI technology. Partially autonomous driving assistants are now a staple in many new cars. While they can’t drive you to your destination on their own, they are accommodating.
These programs use remarkable predictive technologies to prevent accidents in real-time. Using these allows drivers to effectively maneuver around obstacles and pedestrians while minimizing damage to the vehicle and the passengers.
Whether or not we want to admit it, AI reacts faster than humans in most cases. A study published this year investigating autonomous vehicles versus human drivers found that the programs significantly outperformed people.
With this evidence, one might argue going fully autonomous is better for road safety. Taking human error out of the equation may keep roads safer and less congested.
Will automobile accidents disappear?
While these steps can help reduce road issues, they can’t eliminate them. In an ideal world where nothing goes wrong, a fully autonomous system would work. Of course, there are too many factors to consider.
Things sometimes go wrong, and even an AI system isn’t flawless. Machines malfunction, things deviate from expectations, and accidents happen. Introducing autonomous vehicles doesn’t mean the roads will only have autonomous cars. Many people will want to keep their traditional vehicles or cannot afford the upgrade.
Even if all of the cars on the road were autonomous, you need to consider that pedestrians, weather, and animals are also part of the equation. These aren’t unique to autonomous vehicles. These are risks that everyone takes every day they get behind the wheel of a car.
AIs would add an extra element of safety and security to driving.
Unfortunately, you can’t prepare for everything, and accidents will happen regardless of how many precautions you take.
Who is responsible for autonomous cars?
When accidents do happen with their vehicles, law enforcement needs to decide what to do. These autonomous cars are new, and many issues are hypothetical or in a weird legal gray zone.
Think about it this way; when fully autonomous vehicles hit the market, they will be costly.
Their main selling point is that they will drive on their own. While one could argue this adds an extra element of safety – many think it cancels out the need to have a supervising human driver. This factor means that it doesn’t matter who is behind the wheel.
Will the human in the car be responsible for what happens during the drive? Will it be legal to use these drugs while intoxicated or without a license? These hypothetical situations are not just about partying, though.
Many people may see autonomous vehicles as a means of independence. Individuals suffering from severe medical conditions or disabilities might view autonomous vehicles as their only means of liberation. Imagine someone who can’t drive due to paralysis or debilitating back pain, able to finally “drive” themselves to the clinic.
What if they need to take pain management medications that may impede their judgment? Are they responsible for supervising a costly vehicle that advertises its abilities or advertises independently?
Some would argue that the manufacturers would then be the ones potentially at fault for these accidents. It’s their program – but are they responsible for every little element of unforeseen incidences or recklessness?
Only time will tell how the law decides to handle these situations. It’s essential to stay on top of all the latest information as it becomes available until then.
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