While many people imagine self-driving vehicles to represent the end of road collisions, experts continue to raise numerous theoretical concerns about the technology. In many ways, the introduction of autonomous vehicles brings more questions than it does answers. In fact, no one can be certain if the advent of self-driving vehicles means drivers will experience fewer accidents … or more.
Vehicle safety technology has continued to improve with every iteration. From blind spot monitoring to brake assist technology, these safety systems can make drivers feel more confident in their ability to avoid collisions. Taken together, these safety systems represent only a portion of the total programming advancements that are required before putting a truly autonomous vehicle on the road. Some common obstacles can include:
- Unpredictable drivers: While computer programming and machine learning has improved by leaps and bounds in decades past, it is still impossible to account for the unpredictable nature of many on the roadways. From distracted drivers turning the wrong way down a one-way street to drowsy drivers falling asleep at the wheel and driving straight through an intersection, it might be impossible to create an algorithm that allows for the type of instant flexibility that a safe driver might need to exhibit to avoid these hazards.
- Cybersecurity: Unfortunately, virtually any piece of technology can be hacked in some way. Great strides have been made around cybersecurity, but it will be a continuous back-and-forth battle between programmers and those who would see the programming circumvented. Until the computer controlling a vehicle is deemed impregnable, drivers will always be wary.
- Complex social decisions: Many people have likened computer decision-making challenges to the thought experiment known as the “Trolley Problem.” A runaway trolley is headed toward a group of five people tied to the train tracks. You stand next to a lever Pulling the lever will change the course of the trolley to a track that has one person tied to it. You can pull the lever, saving five people, but dooming one, or, by inaction, you can allow the trolley to continue its original course, killing five people. Under the circumstances, which is the best decision? Programming an artificial intelligence to examine and resolve this type of ethical dilemma has plagued technology experts for years.
Unfortunately, motor vehicle collisions can lead to severe, often life-threatening, injuries. Vehicle occupants can suffer broken bones, head trauma, crush injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis and amputation. If you were in a collision or you have lost a loved one in a vehicle crash, do not hesitate to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.