Tesla has essentially promised that driverless cars will be available to most consumers within the next five to ten years. It is a pretty thrilling idea, a world of science fiction come to life thanks to innovative thinkers and engineers. But is it really going to be a reality soon? More importantly, should it be? With everyone so excited about how driverless vehicles can be the future, not too many people have thought about how they could be a failure instead.
As some of the top auto product liability attorneys in the country, our professionals at The Gilbert Law Group are sometimes skeptical when told about a brand new feature in automobiles. Of course, anything that makes the consumer safer is fantastic and new gadgets that make driving more convenient is also good. But a quick look at the history of car accidents caused by sudden acceleration outside of the driver’s control acts as a reminder that added features and advanced technology may not be for the best.
So what could be the reasons why driverless cars are kept off the roads? Consider:
- Unpredictability: As every driver can tell you, roads and highways can be unpredictable under the best conditions. Preliminary tests of self-driving vehicles are promising but they fail to match a real-world scenario of a sudden obstacle. Can a driverless car really handle each and every left hand turn across a busy intersection? Will it know what to do if it slides into an oil spill near a gas station? The possibilities of danger are limitless, and so must be a driverless car’s ability to safely react.
- Maintenance: The average driver has a hard-enough time remembering to get their car regularly maintained as it is, and the consequences can be dire. What will be the result when maintenance is not given to a car that needs not only mechanical parts repaired or replaced but also hi-tech electrical and computer components calibrated, like a LIDAR system and sensors?
- Cost: Picking up a self-driving Tesla Model S right now is expensive but the company promises to get the price tag on future models lower, close to $40,000. As the technology continues to adapt to make driverless vehicles safer, the price may go right back up. Even if it doesn’t, most Americans will admit that they do not have $40,000 available for a car.
- Legality: If you don’t think that the government will want to regulate driverless cars, you’re wrong. Regulations could cover topics as varied as where driverless cars can go, what they need to do when near human drivers, and even what is going to happen when all the driver-based jobs start to disappear – think taxis, buses, pizza delivery services, etc. Before self-driving cars become the norm, miles of red tape and stacks of legislation will assuredly need to be sorted.
- Vulnerability: One of the biggest concerns people keep bringing up on the topic of driverless vehicles is hackers. If even the FBI is concerned that tech-wizards could remotely control a self-driving car and steer it into oncoming traffic – they released a public service announcement about this possibility – we should all be.
It is hard to believe that we will never see driverless cars as the norm, or perhaps even the only option, at some point in the far future. But with just this short list of potential and major defects and issues with self-driving cars, it is pretty easy to imagine that they won’t be here any time soon.
What we can know for certain is that if an automobile defect causes an injury, the automaker needs to be held accountable. New technology or old, the health and safety of the consumer must always be paramount. If you are hurt in an accident caused by a defective auto part, you can turn to our law firm for help. Call our auto product liability attorneys at 888.711.5947 for more information or legal representation.