While today most automated automobile measures still require a certain degree of human intervention, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has estimated that up to 75% of vehicles will be autonomous by the year 2040. Yet while completely autonomous self-driving cars sound like an attainable dream that could greatly increase convenience and accessibility, the reality is that we are still a long way from reaching that point.
Businesses have already hit a few speed bumps
Many businesses have begun to take advantage of automated automobiles to help carry out their business measures, and while the potential is great there have already been a number of incidents with driverless cars. Uber recently began utilizing a self-driving car program, but it has been temporarily halted after a human driver struck a self-driving Uber vehicle, flipping the car, in March. This is not the first issue the program has had: self-driving Ubers have previously failed to detect red lights, and their vehicles have been reported to require frequent human intervention during their drives. Waymo, Google’s version of the service, has encountered similar problems; a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles revealed that, in a time span of approximately one year, there were 13 cases in which human drivers had to intervene to avoid a collision, 69 cases of drivers having to take control of the car to prevent unsafe driving, and 272 cases of drivers needing to take control of the car to deal with “software failures” which include failing to detect obstacles and pedestrians.
The common thread in these cases is a common problem that human drivers encounter: you simply don’t know what other drivers will do on the road.
This is what needs to be addressed
Uber, Marble, and Google illustrate just some of the many potential problems that automated cars could potentially bring to the table. Perhaps the most glaring issue is the potential for accidents, and who would be considered at fault. Though driverless cars have accidents at a rate of 3.2 accidents per million miles (as opposed to the US national average of 4.2 accidents per million miles), there have still been a number of notable accidents involving driverless cars. Or, such as in Uber’s case, if a human driver strikes an automated car. Even more hazardous is Tesla’s Summon feature. In the present, the function is limited to use on private property, such as taking your car out of your garage or automatically parking it; however, Elon Musk has discussed his vision of being able to summon your car from your garage to an entirely separate location, say, an airport. This sounds like it would be an incredibly convenient feature, but say your car gets into an accident while it is en route to pick you up, or after you’ve driven to the airport and sent it home. Who would take care of your car?
Cyber security is another risk as companies prepare to utilize driverless cars in their fleets. Should there be a security breach that renders their fleet unable to drive, there is a good chance that the business would be unable to operate for an unknown period of time, potentially costing the company a great deal. Another thing that will need to be almost completely reworked is the legal precedent for automotive cases. In the present, laws and regulations are based entirely on human action, and do not currently take into account how a machine may behave. While at this moment all automated vehicles require a degree of human cooperation, if vehicles were to become able to independently operate there would be a number of holes in the law.
If companies start to use fleets of automobiles as a substitution for human employees, this will create an unusual dynamic: namely, if automated machines replace employees, should they be treated as employees? One such case is occurring in San Francisco in the partnership between Yelp Eat24 and Marble. Yelp has added the option to have food delivered via delivery robots, and they pay Marble as they would any other delivery person. But while robots are unlikely to raise workers’ compensation claims, their integration into the workplace could create some from human employees. People losing their jobs to machinery could lead to workers’ compensation and employment practices liability claims from the ousted humans, and workers’ compensation policies will need to be updated to take into account the potential new dangers that ubiquitous machinery would bring to the workplace. Finally, while technology cannot be injured it can be damaged, and damage to a vehicle could potentially create immense expenses for the company as they need to take into account repair costs, analyses to ascertain why accidents occurred, and replacement parts.
Regardless of who’s behind the wheel, there is always the chance for an accident on the road. Contact your HUB broker today for more information on how you can protect yourself and your business.