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Driverless Cars- To swerve or not to swerve?
- AuthorHuw Ponting
There is an inevitability that we will migrate towards driverless cars. It is also likely to come sooner than the critics think.
It has to result in safer roads, right? Well, not until significant hurdles are overcome.
There will be a lengthy transition period when such cars share the roads with conventional cars. We have already seen examples of collisions between driverless and “driven” cars. Predicting what another vehicle does in a situation is much more complicated when only one is controlled by complex algorithms.
And what of those algorithms? If faced with either colliding with another vehicle which has strayed onto the wrong side of the road (whatever the cause) or swerving into a pedestrian on the adjacent verge or pavement in an effort to avoid the other vehicle, what course does the avoiding vehicle take? What of the action required if a wild animal enters the road in a rural setting. Swerve or don’t swerve? Computers don’t have the answer for everything.
When considering the issue of liability for damages do we look to our laws of negligence when looking at the action or inaction of a driver? Or the law of product liability by application to the manufacturer or supplier of the vehicle?
The genie is out of the bottle. We will see a steady take-up of driverless cars, but there will be challenges that need to be overcome. As a consequence the legal landscape and insurance of risk will have to change too.