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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Gao

Driving Toward Ethical Horizons: Navigating the Policy Landscape of Automated Cars

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Autonomous vehicles are widely regarded as the future of transportation. There are 5 levels of driving automation, and a vehicle is considered autonomous if it is L3, L4, or L5.


https://www.synopsys.com/automotive/autonomous-driving-levels.html

According to Precedence Research, a market research organization, the global autonomous vehicle (AV) industry is projected to hit around USD $2.35 trillion by 2032, from $121.78 billion in 2022. Autonomous driving holds many appealing promises: it'll reduce accidents caused by human error/intoxication, increase mobility for the young and disabled, and reduce environmental damages from optimized traffic flow.


According to the National Law Review, however, there are 9.1 self-driving car accidents per million miles driven, while the same rate is 4.1 crashes per million miles for regular vehicles . Other risks of autonomous vehicles include low human alertness, combustion of lithium-ion batteries, and cyber attacks. Additionally, the lack of AV safety regulation in state laws contribute to imperfect AI technology in the market. Also, how are autonomous vehicles supposed respond to other reckless drivers? These raise important questions regarding the liability for accidents involving self-driving cars, which should be solved before fully autonomous vehicles hit the market.



Red light runner hits Google Waymo van in Chandler, Arizona


Here are some different legal frameworks to handle the issue:

  • At present, the legal framework, vicarious liability, attributes responsibility for a car accident to the driver, but legal liability is placed on the owner of the vehicle. Manufacturers like Tesla use end-user agreements and other legal documents to safeguard themselves from potential liability.

The modified comparative negligence system in SC
  • Comparative Negligence: When extended to product liability, the negligence of the driver, car manufacturer, and other parties/vehicles in the accident are weighed and assigned percentageof fault. This system is used in California and the majority of states, and ideally allows a fair amount of accountability and compensation for all parties. The defendant manufacturer has a responsibility to build cars without latent or hidden defects, and also bears the burden to prove the plaintiff driver was also negligent. Again, if the driver is found at fault, the car owner assumes responsibility for damages.

  • Contributive Negligence: If a party in the accident is assigned even 1% of fault, they are ineligible for any compensation. The system is used by Alabama, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. This standard is much more clear than comparative negligence and holds drivers to a higher standard of care, but often bears inequitable results in complicated situations

  • If the plaintiff/driver/owner decides to sue the vehicle manufacturer, a large challenge is that there may be multiple corporation behind a single model. Each may be responsible for a different part, such as a GPS. However, liability may be extremely difficult to pinpoint, considering that evidence may be complicated and that technical computer programs that are protected by the companies as trade secrets. States like Baltimore employ a system called enterprise liability, meaning that as long as the plaintiff has brought all of the possibly liable defendants into the lawsuit, they can recover compensation from the defendants as a whole

In my opinion, a form of comparative liability where both the drivers' negligences and manufacturers' faults are weighed is the best solution for autonomous vehicle cases. Fully autonomous vehicles are not yet available, and the variety of situations that can cause car accidents may involve both ignorant supervision or unsafe production. More and more competitors like Google, General Motors, and Uber are entering the AV industry, and we may be see AVs as the dominant car on the road in the near future. Although the idea of AI may make use feel secure, the high speeds of car travel are still extremely dangerous. For now, keep your eye on the road!


The ethics of AVs extend beyond liability. Stay tuned for a post about the ethics of AI prioritization of pedestrians versus passengers!







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06. 11. 2023
Hodnoceno 5 z 5 hvězdiček.

FSD vs AI - perfect match!

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04. 11. 2023
Hodnoceno 5 z 5 hvězdiček.

super interesting! excited for more posts

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04. 11. 2023
Hodnoceno 5 z 5 hvězdiček.

I have never thought about this …

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04. 11. 2023
Hodnoceno 5 z 5 hvězdiček.

Very cool

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