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The case for Artificially Intelligent Vehicles.

Holding the opinion that I do still believe Self-Driving or Autonomous Vehicles are a luxury rather than a necessity; vehicle manufacturers continue to make the argument that AI vehicles are superior to non-autonomous vehicles.

Though, consider that is the case — in certain situations, if the driver is handicapped, under the influence, or just plain tired, let AI take the wheel (Pathetic Carrie Underwood Pun intended).

The question still remains, who is legally responsible in the case of an accident?

In Australia, the government has been clear that no matter how ignorant the pedestrian is — the driver is almost always at fault. Consider that predicament, should the manufacturers be held legally accountable if the vehicle is autonomous?

The case made in defense of AI being that it is superior and with continuous improvements being made, self-driving vehicles have developed the ability to predict/prevent crashes (as was presented in a viral Tesla video).

From an insurance point of view, to the best of my understanding — the driver behind the wheel should be paying attention to the road regardless, hence the responsibility being held by the driver and not the autonomous vehicle.

If the Government forms the same opinion, it eliminates the possibility of Self-driving cars being held responsible for an accident; because as such AI system malfunction or vehicular failure falls into the same category as a mechanical failure.

Though the argument should be made that if an autonomous vehicle’s sole purpose is to remove the stress from the driver, let AI take the wheel (another shameless Carrie Understood reference). Why then would the driver invest in a much more expensive vehicle to begin with — if not for luxury.

President and Chief Executive Officer Håkan Samuelsson of Volvo, maintains the company is legally liable should there be a system or sensory failure in a fully-autonomous vehicle.

Whilst, in a semi-autonomous vehicle — an investigation into AI failure, Driver responsibility, and the case-by-case analysis of an accident would fall into consideration and as such the driver may/could be held legally responsible in the case of an accident.

This is in the case of individuals who own and operate a vehicle with self-driving technology.

In the case of ride-sharing services, the case may be different — such as Uber introducing Self-Driving vehicles, the case would be no different if a driver was operating the vehicle, since the passenger is willingly entering a vehicle with the knowledge that the vehicle is operated through Artificially Intelligent technology.

For the sake of argument, I’ll rule out AI System Hacking for now — because it may fall into the Criminal Interference or Cyber-Crime category.

The case for Semi-Autonomous and Fully-Autonomous Vehicles has been determined as such,

If the vehicle is Semi-Autonomous, the Driver is legally accountable and as such liable for any damages.

In the case of a Fully-Autonomous Vehicle, the case remains uncertain to form an opinion on exactly “who” is to be held legally accountable.

  • Should it the Manufacturers, if so — is this an agreement a customer enters into when purchasing an Autonomous Vehicle?
  • Should it be an AI mechanism investigation, if so — would we see Government established further spending on a revamped Traffic — Crime division to monitor AI system failure?
  • Should it fall upon Insurance Companies, if so — new policies would be established, and as such the case falls back into a back-and-forth between the Insurer, Manufacturer, and Owner of the vehicle in question.

There’s no doubt that with technological innovation comes regulatory evolution, the demand for AI-driven vehicles may very well form the basis of the future of transportation.

Until we’re able to determine exactly who bears the responsibility, should customers even be taking the risk to pursue purchasing an Autonomous vehicle — if not for luxury?

It’s a question that needs to be researched and answered, and obviously as always — I’m not dismissive of the technology, but do hope to gain a better understanding of the legal ramifications of what is being called the “Future of Modern Transportation”.

Please feel free to leave your opinion down below, I’m always open to entertaining an open-argument and gaining a further insight into this technology as it develops.

Thank you for reading.

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