The federal government is preparing. Georgia Tech is preparing. When will Georgia and Atlanta see driverless cars on our roads and highways? The headlines are consistent: driverless cars seem to be inevitable. In our last post, we updated our readers on the guidelines published in September 2016 by the federal government on research areas and safety issues with driverless vehicles. Right here in Georgia, our renown Georgia Tech, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is hard at work looking at what appears to inevitable — cars and trucks driving themselves. In other words, get ready Georgians, we may one day be sharing the road with robots … also known as autonomous cars and trucks.
The researchers at Georgia Tech are looking at the way our future roads will look. Despite the claims that driverless vehicles will make our roads safer, researchers are looking at many potentially problematic aspects of their widespread use. For example, the researchers are looking into whether autonomous vehicles could actually cause more traffic nightmares by disrupting traffic flow that could lead to surface-street bottlenecks. While research currently underway and while we believe a world with driverless vehicles as the norm is a while off, the first driverless truck delivered beer in Colorado this week. Yes, that’s right, a driverless truck delivering beer.
We know these vehicles are becoming a reality. Georgia Tech researchers note that a transition is needed before we can fully rely on autonomous vehicles. They have identified significant areas of concern regarding things like how vehicles are fueled, insured and highway infrastructure itself. They are also looking at key issues that will likely need more study such as how autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles will interact and potentially conflict, how liability and ownership will function and how our highways will accommodate these vehicles with potential traffic pattern changes.
The federal guidelines issued last month are merely recommendations. The potential problems and safety issues using artificial intelligence to maneuver and drive trucks and cars in all conditions without human intervention are far from resolved. The testing phase will go on for some time, we hope long enough to ensure the safety and security of Americas roads and highways. We want to avoid serious or fatal injuries and accidents because there is no driver to react to an unexpected situation or event.
The claim that driverless vehicles will be safer than people-driven vehicles is something that has yet to be fully proven. Assumptions can be made, but they need to be based on evidence to become fact. We know that Americans were skeptical when we transitioned from horsepower to motor power in the last century. And many are now skeptical about the technology of driverless vehicles and their safety. It will take time for all the issues to be resolved. Hopefully, the agencies that regulate our road safety will be vigilant in ensuring that driverless vehicles are not released prematurely, before they are fully tested in all conditions with which a human driven vehicle could be faced.
Scholle Law is committed to bringing excellence in law practice to our community. We will continue to follow the development of this technology and will continue to respond to those injured or harmed in accidents and who seek our help. Please contact our law firm at any time for a free consultation.