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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Google Self Driving Car Crash

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Self-driving cars are becoming more and more advanced, but, as with any developing technology, they are not 100% safe.  Earlier this month, an event many thought to be inevitable finally happened: the highly publicized Google self-driving car was involved in a personal injury incident for the first time.  According to reports, the Google SUV was rear-ended and its three occupants complained of minor injuries.

Autonomous Vehicles and Safety

Google and other companies have been working on autonomous vehicles for years.  Two main reasons for pursuing driverless cars are safety and accessibility for individuals who are unable to drive.

In the crash, the Google SUV was rear-ended.  Typically, that means the motorist who overtook and struck the rear of the vehicle ahead was negligent or careless.  Still, for all the safety advantages touted by proponents of autonomous vehicles, the collision seems to be proof that there are still risks involved anytime you take to the roads.

Rise of the Machines?

When I posted an article about self-driving cars about 8 months ago, I mentioned an emerging ethical debate brewing over technology responsible for making decisions about human safety.  Often referred to as the “trolley driver’s dilemma,” the nightmare scenario involves an inevitably fatal outcome, such as swerving to avoid a group of five people in the road, instead striking and killing a bystander.  In the context of self-driving vehicles, such an event might consist of the vehicle choosing to crash itself (with you inside), to prevent a collision with an oncoming school bus.  Who’s responsible for the injuries that result?

Motor vehicle safety is constantly evolving and improving.  The Google Car crash is another chapter in developing protection systems aimed and reducing, and hopefully someday preventing, serious injury and death on our highways.