Some Louisville, Kentucky, residents may be aware that many companies have been aggressively developing and testing cars that are capable of doing most functions without a driver. Whether these vehicles can do so safely, however, is another matter.
In a story that has attracted national attention, a pedestrian in another state died after a self-driving car being used by the transportation network company Uber hit her. Uber has since stopped testing its self-driving technology on the public roads.
This tragic accident has energized those who have been expressing alarm about the use of self-driving technology on roads where other, conventional motorists and pedestrians are also traveling.
While these people do not seem to be raising a problem with the concept of a car that can operate completely or in many ways without a driver, they have emphasized that the technology is just not advanced enough to test in public without putting people in harm's way. Some have even called for a moratorium on this type of testing after this accident.
Reportedly, this accident is not the only problem Uber's technologically advanced cars have encountered. Some have been caught violating traffic laws or crossing in to a designated bicycle lane while the car's autonomous technology was enabled.
From the perspective of personal injury law, it makes sense that someone's insurance company should have to pay compensation for damages caused by an autonomous vehicle. Whether the person, or firm, responsible should be the car's manufacturer or the person who was supposed to be monitoring the vehicle remains an question that will be answered as the law surrounding car accidents develops around this new technology.
Source: NBC News, "Fatal crash could pull plug on autonomous vehicle testing on public roads," Paul A. Eisenstein, March 21, 2018.