Self-Driving Vehicles Still Years in the Future

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), self-driving vehicles, although a goal for the future, are not going to be allowed on the road for some years. The head of the NHTSA issued a statement saying that they support efforts to develop these types of vehicles, but the only way they could operate on public highways now is for testing purposes.

Some auto manufacturers like Nissan and Daimler have already begun promising these types of vehicles in the future. GM, on the other hand, offers perhaps a more realistic view that while autonomous vehicles are a future possibility, drivers will still have to be engaged with the situation at hand for safety purposes. The penultimate questions of legal liability and insurance are unchartered territory in this discussion.

Liability is going to be a huge issue for auto companies that plan on manufacturing autonomous vehicles. For example, if a self-driving car gets into an accident, is it the driver’s fault or is it the auto manufacturer’s fault for faulty self-driving software? These are questions that engineers are currently grappling with.

California regulators have already said that even when self-driving cars are allowed on the road, they must always have a human operator to boot. These cars may also be able to be operated from positions outside of the vehicle, which presents a whole new set of questions. What happens if a teenager without a license is “operating” the car from home? If his car gets into an accident, is the underage teen or his parents responsible?

This new automobile technology is still largely untested, even though some states (like California) have been testing these cars on roads for about two years. Only time will tell what the future holds for the self-driving vehicle.