It is well known that driver-less cars will be coming. The only question is when. A number of automakers are working diligently on prototypes, including Audi, Toyota and Mercedes Benz. In fact, Silicon Valley tech giant Google is also in the running for an autonomous car. In fact, automakers already have elements of self driving cars in today’s vehicles such as adaptive cruise control, park assist functions and automatic braking functions.
While many automakers pledge to have fully autonomous cars by the end of the decade, that opportunity may not be up to them. State regulators must develop rules for the operation of autonomous vehicles, especially for testing, and these rules are slow to develop.
After all, the world of self-driving cars is something that the law has never had to deal with, and there are a number of important questions that must be resolved before further real world testing may begin. For instance, what happens when a driver-less car malfunctions and the vehicle is involved in a crash or puts the driver (or others) in danger?
In addition, what are some essential safety standards that must be maintained regardless of whether the car is fully autonomous? Further, how will police officers enforce the laws surrounding autonomous cars? State legislatures are notoriously slow to enact rules for new areas of law, and the rules surrounding autonomous vehicles are no different; despite the notion that self-driving cars may ultimately be safer than cars with human drivers.
Nevertheless, consternation over rules should not be a barrier to introducing these vehicles to the market.