There’s a marked increase in the popularity of driverless cars. But the question that everyone’s asking now is, are these autonomous vehicles really safe? According to Consumer Reports, car makers have been utilizing various approaches as they venture into this new industry trend.
Tesla has already introduced autonomous features and rolled them out slowly when the company deems they are road-ready. Waymo, which used to be Google’s pet project, follows a more conservative stand – not to sell its driverless cars until human action is no longer required entirely. There are several other companies who are also developing similar technologies and they fall in the middle of these two different approaches.
Both tech companies and car makers continue to face ethical questions, such as:
- How should we react when the autonomous system fails?
- Is it OK to use human drivers as test subjects?
Ultimately, the public should not accept the idea of having imperfect and untested machines on our roadways as doing so could endanger all of us. While human error can be tolerated, imperfections in robots should never be tolerated.
Driveless car Lawsuits
A fatal accident in Florida back in May 2016 which involved a Tesla semi-autonomous car serves as a wakeup call. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation and found that there was no safety defect. In a statement released by Tesla, it was found that neither the Autopilot nor the driver responded to the tractor that was making a U-turn ahead. The lesson to be learned here is that drivers should always be aware of the limitations and capabilities of their vehicles. It was only after this deadly accident that Tesla began emphasizing that their vehicles are not fully autonomous and drivers should always be ready to take over at any moment.
Consumers not sure what to do
Since the Tesla crash, Consumer Reports has maintained that automakers are sending mixed messages to consumers by giving drivers a false sense of security. Many people feel it’s OK to take their hands off the wheel when using these systems when in fact, the opposite is true. What if there is a car accident?
We believe that it’s completely unacceptable to use human beings as test subjects in the automakers’ plight to perfect the technology in autonomous vehicles. It’s also important for car makers to make sure every owner of autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles are made aware of what their vehicle can and cannot do. After all, safety should be their main priority here, not profits.
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