Self-driving cars are autonomous vehicles capable of operating without a driver. Accordong to CBC, these machines are already driving Canada’s freeways. To provide some background on where they come from, it’s a good idea to look at which companies are manufacturing driverless cars: The three tech giants, Google, Uber, and Tesla are already racing to get the first self-driving cars on the road. These auto companies in the states have employed robotics teams to install artificial intelligence while they tweak the car’s autopilot software.
Are Self-Driving Cars Truly Ready To Hit The Road?
The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. According to the MIT Technology Review, they did a test drive on an autonomous Ford Fusion with built-in roof sensors. Two people volunteered to watch from the front seats as their Uber car attempts to navigate the path through downtown Pittsburgh. They were quite impressed with how the car stayed in its lane, not swerving unless absolutely necessary. The futuristic car managed to get them around the city without hitting a single obstacle. Despite the successful test, automated vehicles are still not 100% foolproof.
To illustrate this, the majority of autonomous cars were only driven on open highways which had fewer curved roads, confusing intersections, and were unaffected by bad weather. A few gadgets such as the high-precision GPS and the roof laser unit helps the car identify pedestrians on the streets. However, no number of high-tech monitors can guarantee hit and run incidents won’t happen. A recent report showed that a Google self-driving car was involved in a crash at Los Altos with another car that had a human behind the wheel. This is problematic for everyone involved. According to Page et al., hit and run violations are pursued and prosecuted vigorously by law enforcement. It’s not difficult to see how a driverless car passenger could be on the wrong end of such an inquiry.
Hit and Run Accidents Present New Problems for Automated Cars
This brought up the issue of how easy it is to damage a Google car’s rear sensors. The cost of automated equipment is a legitimate concern. The driver was clearly at fault here and to make matters worse, they escaped instead of accepting responsibility for causing the crash. If the self-driving car had no passengers, then it cannot produce evidence of a hit and run incident. A human needs to be present to explain the situation to the police.
On the other hand, can autonomous vehicles be held accountable for causing a hit and run accident if it has no human occupant? Google admitted that their cars have caused 11 accidents during test courses. This suggests that automated cars are a liability for their owners due to unexpected collisions. Whether you, another driver, or an autonomous driving algorithm were at fault, you need to get back to work.