Robotic Cars: Not such a Thing of the Future After All

Robotic Cars: Not such a Thing of the Future After All | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

Everyone would like a personal chauffer to whisk them around town day in and day out…right? Having a personal chauffeur take you from point A to point B is certainly convenient, but for most Americans this over the top luxury is never within their budget. However, recent developments in the car technology industry may make this luxury accessible to the masses. Always on the cutting edge of road safety, our auto accident attorneys are tuned in as the technology develops to assess the potential legal issues involved.

For a number of years the auto industry has been working to develop a robotic driving system capable of operating a vehicle without any human assistance. Lately the robotic vehicle has broken some new barriers on the road to viability. It is no surprise that Google is at the core of forthcoming innovations. According to the San Jose Mercury newspaper, auto industry executives now predict that self-driving vehicles could possibly be on the roads by 2025 or sooner.

For a type of technology that has been in development stages since the mid-1950’s, the possibility for market readiness is big news. The Google vehicle operation system uses technological equipment, such as a laser based detection system, to track and react to environmental risks. The lasers are similar to those used in the cars that can already parallel park themselves or self-correct if the driver veers over the lane lines.

One of the primary obstacles of putting the Google technology on the market is cost. The laser technology alone comes with a hefty price tag of almost $70,000 per vehicle. Additionally, in order to see the technology hit the main stream Google would need to find a car company interested in adding the product to their vehicles. In all likelihood finding a host vehicle probably would not be much of a challenge. The San Jose Mercury is reporting that Google is already talking with multiple companies including Toyota and Mercedes Benz about incorporating the driving system in their vehicles.

Aside from finding a vehicle compatible with the technology, industry experts also view public perception as a major hurdle on the way to driverless vehicles. Many car industry experts believe that the public will be hesitant to entrust their lives entirely to a robot operator. Surveys of the general public show a lukewarm reception to the idea with only about fifty percent of the American population indicating a willingness to try a computer operated car. Of the fifty percent to give robots a shot, many still desired the ability to operate the car with robotic assistance rather than letting a robot do all the driving. 

Whatever the rate of popularity may be, one thing is certain: completely auto-operated vehicles will tow in a slew of new legal issues. For the most part vehicle operation laws and regulations come from state government entities, thus the extent of rules governing robot vehicles could vary drastically from state to state. So far Florida and Nevada are the first and only states to have authorized licensing procedures for robotically operated vehicles.

Requirements for licensing are really just the basic surface level legal issues that may arise. The more significant and worrisome legal issues will likely surround situations where a robot operated vehicle gets into a collision and causes injuries. When a human is operating a car he or she can be held responsible for injuries inflicted upon others if a serious crash occurs. If a robot is responsible, it is unclear who if anyone might be responsible.

Our auto accident attorneys know how devastating crashes can be and we believe people injured in car crashes deserve the ability to recover money for the injuries they sustain. An inability to recover is a scary thought. If robot driven cars begin to cause accidents, victims will need attorneys familiar with the types of legal accountability that might be involved in the crash. When a defective or malfunctioning product causes injury, the company responsible for putting that product on the market can usually be held accountable. In the context of robot cars this might mean that companies selling the cars or developing the robot technology could be liable for crash injuries.

As the legal situation evolves surrounding robot operated cars, you can count on our auto accident attorneys to stay apprised with the developments. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident you should contact our legal team as soon as possible to learn about possible compensation for your injuries.