Google cars’ autonomous technology is now considered to be the driver in the US. The decision was made recently by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
A human behind a steering wheel is not necessarily considered as the driver anymore, at least not according to the U.S. Federal Transportation Safety Board. Google and its mother company Alphabet persuaded the federal authorities that the software in their self-driving cars can be considered as the driver of the car. This means that the first step towards self-driving vehicles’ government approval has been reached.
The decision of the NHTSA stating that the software behind self-driving cars should be considered as the driver, is very important. Why? Because now mass-production of self-driving cars can begin as technology is now considered responsible enough to control a car on public roads. Scary? Possibly – who can forget the rogue computer HAL in the classic 2001 Space Oddyssey!
No-one’s suggesting this super-smart technology can possibly eliminate car accidents entirely. This raises concerns (and many questions) for Crash Management, fleet services companies generally and the collision repair/panelbeating industry. No doubt insurance companies will be freaking at the very thought of no at-fault party to sue, and we can’t see them taking on Google – well maybe in the US but probably not from New Zealand. We expect our friends in the legal profession are looking forward to the day though, (as usual) they may be the only one’s to profit from the liability uncertainties…