It is easy to think of safety as a finite concept by which everything should be judged. When you are dealing with autonomous vehicles, this type of thinking is outdated. These self-driving vehicles depend on a variety of systems to function properly. Each of these needs to have a specific concept of safety that is based on the specifications of the particular technology.
When you try to lump all autonomous vehicles together under one standard, there is a chance that the safety of each vehicle could be made worse instead of better. You have to make sure that you are thinking carefully about what can honestly be expected from a technology.
Five levels of human involvement
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) sets five levels of interaction from humans when it comes to automotive vehicles. The higher the level, the more the computer program controls the vehicle. These are the five levels:
- Cruise control technology that requires constant human interaction.
- Cruise control that has traffic sensitive components that can help with speed and steering.
- Self-driving cars that enable humans to control the vehicles as needed.
- Self-driving cars that don’t need drivers when they are in the right conditions.
- Autonomous vehicles that don’t ever need human drivers.
Issues with autonomous vehicles
Even though the programs that control vehicles use sensors and specific commands to address certain situations, there are still so many variables that can occur that it is hard to accurately ascertain the necessary reactions by the autonomous vehicles. Many people think of autonomous vehicles as monorails and similar mass transit systems, which may have some benefits over autonomous cars.
When considering an autonomous monorail or subway system, you are dealing with a single vehicle on a track. Autonomous cars, on the other hand, are driving around other vehicles without the benefit of having a rail or track. They can pose significant safety hazards on the road.
Because of the safety concerns with autonomous cars, their manufacturers have to take a careful stance The introduction of semitrucks that fall under levels 4 or 5 are still on the horizon. But considering their size and potential for fatal crashes, releasing autonomous big rigs requires even more caution to ensure the safety of other motorists and passengers sharing the road.
For drivers injured in accidents caused by an autonomous vehicles, there remain many questions regarding liability issues. As there isn’t a driver to hold accountable, who is liable for the crash? Would it be the manufacturer or the owner of the vehicle? Reviewing the circumstances of the crash can help to determine these emerging legal conundrums.