by Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science
Ninety percent of automobile accidents now involve human error. If scientists succeed in producing computer-driven cars, responsibility may shift to programming errors. In that case, who sues whom? Who is liable?
Scientists working on computer-driven cars — so-called autonomous vehicles — are dealing with issues Henry Ford never worried about, and the technology is ahead of the law.
Google has several fully autonomous cars roaming the streets of California.
In some ways it already is happening by steps. Most new cars have anti-lock braking systems, self-adjusting cruise control, traction control, and computers that can slam on the brakes when it detects an imminent collision. The driver just enjoys the ride.
Meanwhile, experimental autonomous cars get better.