Google is seeking partners to make fully self driving cars a consumer reality within the next five years.
Google itself doesn’t want to be a car manufacturer. Instead it wants to partner with a car maker to get the job complete.
There are still a host of issues that have to be resolved before this becomes a reality, and most of these issues are not technical, they are legal.
For example, assume a self driving car is involved in a car accident. Who does the victim sue? The owner of the car, literally the one that WAS NOT driving? Do you sue Google? The car company that made the car? The problem with uncharted waters is that there are many unknowns. Where does that lawsuit go to help pay for the medical bills?
Legal issues don’t stop at car accidents. Assume that there was an accident ahead and the police are directing traffic. The self driving car doesn’t recognize the officer and continues to do the GPS enabled pattern and passes the officer. Who receives that ticket? The person that owns the car isn’t driving. So again does it go to Google? The maker of the car? Who pays for that ticket?
These issues (there are a million ways something can go wrong), need to be addressed. These mostly are not technical but rather legal.
Of course that doesn’t mean that technical issues do not exist, they do as well. Using Google maps I noticed that the construction on the road I was driving on wasn’t updated. So of course Google Maps was pushing me to X when I need to be at Y. Compound that by the couple million cars driving on the road and you will see many opportunities for trouble. All of these point to eventual lawsuits, injury and just overall problems.
We’re not saying that the percentage of accidents by self driving cars are worse, in fact even if it’s a fraction of what they are by normal drivers it’s still a large number and trouble eventually will happen.
In 2012 33,561 people died on US roads. Now lets assume that the Self driving cars reduce this rate by 90%. That’s an incredibly major improvement it means that Google saved the lives of 30,205 people. It also means that 3,356 people died. Where do the lawsuits go for those 3,356?
You know the term no good deed goes unpunished, well some lawyer will make the case that Google killed 3,356 rather than saved 30,205 people. This is hypothetical assuming that everyone had a self driving car. But alas it’s a potential outcome in a few dozen years.