Nowadays, there has been significant argument when it comes to the accidents happening on autonomous vehicles. The laws to divide the responsibilities of the accident is not mature enough, and according to a 2013 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Autonomous vehicles will shift the responsibility for avoiding accidents from the driver to the vehicle manufacturer.” Since the federal law of dividing responsibilities have not been mature yet, if the liability issues are not solved, it could delay or even wipe out the vision of driverless cars gaining widespread consumer use. Therefore, in the long term, federal attention to safety standards for autonomous vehicles will be needed, and those standards will have liability implications.
One of the most important liability issue I recognize is the failure to warn, and this issue mainly lies in the manufacturer process. Manufacturers that fail to provide adequate information regarding the risks of using a product can be liable for failure to warn, so that manufacturers should act quickly to provide the updates. One of the solutions include to have automatic updates for the vehicles; however, this would be controversy, in the case of the owner wants to specifically approve any changes to their vehicle’s software. For example, if it there is a traffic jam and you would like to drive for a speed much lower than the normal speed, however the automatic system already set the speed itself. In this case, you would be driving faster than other cars on the road, and collisions may occur. Some of the manufacturer even provides more warnings than necessary, which would cause more time to react, and may involve more expensive sensors to detect.
Another issue would be negligence. Product manufacturers have a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care in designing their products so that those products will be safe when used in used in reasonably foreseeable ways, but not all cases are considered. If the vehicle is only tested on a dry road, and all the systems are set to react under the dry condition, what if the weather is rainy, roads are all wet and friction are smaller? If the driver is driving the vehicle himself, he would break harder than normal conditions. But if the system is set to react only under dry, normal conditions, this may increase the possibility of having accidents.
To solve the issues I mentioned, vehicles can be divided into different sensing levels, and people can chose the vehicles according to their needs. Also, when updates are installed, drivers should be informed so that they will know what kind of features are included, and if they will need to set any personal improvements. To concur negligence, manufacturers should consult experts, and to cover all possible scenarios.