The Union Recorder

Top Stories

January 14, 2013

Is the world prepared for the driverless car era? Are you?

(Continued)

Federal legal clarity is also essential. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is planning to study the issue, should be transparent with the public and the auto industry about any plans to update its rulebook, and when it intends to act.

In doing so, it should remember that there is a wide spectrum of automated technology that runs from anti-lock brakes to Google's driverless car and beyond, so regulation must be flexible. And it should take special care not to inhibit innovation in a quickly evolving field. This is easier said than done, but one approach would be to focus more on conceptual standards — such as requiring that autonomous cars not exceed a certain number of accidents per million miles — rather than mandating specific safety features.

Next, policymakers will have to devise clear rules for determining liability. Should the driver be held responsible for his vehicle? The manufacturer? Perhaps a third party that designed an app for a car that malfunctioned? Resolving such questions will be incredibly messy. A smart first step would be to require event data recorders — "black boxes" that contain information about a car's operation before a crash — in all autonomous cars, with adequate privacy safeguards.

Congress should also consider the model offered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Autonomous vehicles may in the future be judged an essential social good. But, as with vaccines, the potential for rare but extremely costly lawsuits could inhibit manufacturers from meeting demand. To ease such concerns, Congress could direct claims against autonomous-car manufacturers to a special federal court outside the normal tort system, and establish a fund to compensate accident victims.

Finally, officials at all levels must manage expectations, and plan realistically. Autonomous cars won't be perfect, and they will surely cause havoc in many cases. Their benefits may also be exaggerated in the public mind. In the best long-term case, a commute like the one described above — faster, safer, more productive — could become a reality. But not soon. In fact, as Smith argues, high demand for autonomous cars could in the medium term prevent heralded reductions in congestion, emissions and sprawl.

Text Only
Top Stories
Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1" Trailer is Here! Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear