Automobile manufacturers are beginning to find themselves in strange territory. For decades now, Fifth Avenue ad men and women have tried to convince us that the most liberating, exhilarating experience possible is to power down the highway in a nice, new, powerful car. The public’s tastes appear to be changing, however, at least according to some auto enthusiasts. Segments of the public now have “switched gears.” It’s also really cool to ride in a driverless car.
Will robot cars take over the streets in Rhode Island and Massachusetts? Will you flag down a taxi that has no cabbie? No one is sure, but reports say the place to watch for signs of the future is Singapore.
One might think that the U.S. would be the testing ground for the robot car phenomenon. Google says it has logged more than 1,000,000 miles in driverless vehicles on American highways. Tesla says its Model S is nearly a driverless car.
Yet, not so fast: driverless vehicles are still a ways off, due to numerous regulatory issues. For example, California—where much of the actual robot car research is done and where most of the required software is written—has proposed laws that would require all robot cars to have steering wheels and brake pedals in case of an emergency. Some robot car experts say driverless cars are actually safer without them, since they allow too much human intervention. At the same time, however, CA is on the forefront of regulating an emerging industry that is fraught with potential safety risks.
Singapore offers the advantage of being relatively small, in terms of geography, relatively benign, in terms of regulations, and extremely enthusiastic, in terms of its government officials. Reports are flowing that the Singapore government, ordinarily known for its stinginess, has actually forked out millions to aid with feasibility studies and other research. Spin-offs from Silicon Valley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have set up offices on the island nation. Unlike the U.S., with multiple federal governmental offices and 50 separate states competing to set robot car ground rules, Singapore has a simple, federal government structure that can turn on a dime. It’s that small turning radius that robot car developers hope to use to their advantage.
Robot Car Legal Issues Linger
Questions remain, of course. Who is responsible if you’re damaged due to the “negligence” of the robot? Can a robot be negligent? The issues are not just hypothetical. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating what appears to be the first fatality in a crash of a robot car. On May 7, 2016, an Ohio resident, Joshua Brown, was killed while utilizing the “driverless” characteristics of his Tesla. In a separate incident, on July 1, 2016, another Tesla crashed and rolled over on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Initial reports indicate the vehicle was on Autopilot at the time of the crash. Some critics of Tesla’s “Autopilot” say the driverless systems gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it actually is.
The injury lawyers at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC have the resources to stay on top of the legal issues related to driverless robot vehicles. For years now, we have shown flexibility and ingenuity in handling all sorts of legal claims, particularly those involving personal injury. Our experienced legal team has a great track record helping residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island with all sorts of claims. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation. Give us a call at 866–529–9700, or complete the convenient online contact form.