I’ve been amazed to read about and watch the developments of so-called “self-driving cars” or autonomous driving. The potential for this technology to fundamentally re-shape transportation in this country is almost limitless, from reducing the # of cars per household (or even ownership) and the need for large amounts of on-site parking at retail and office destinations, to enabling those both young and old with a new form of point-to-point personal transportation. As many recent stories have highlighted, the technology exists today; it’s more a matter of aligning our legal and insurance approaches to align with and support a new model.
I heard Steve Cannon, the President of Mercedes-Benz USA, speak last week, and he confirmed that M-B has already demonstrated the technology – the main barrier is one of liability. In today’s environment, liability resides with the driver and their insurer, but in the future, if an accident is imminent and the “system” or software determines who or what to hit, who’s responsible?