Who Insures The Robot Cars?

Posted on August 19, 2014 by

Driverless dreams are nothing new.
Driverless dreams are nothing new.

As Google continues to refine its driverless car technology, bringing them closer to mainstream use, the question arises of what to do in case of an accident? There is no doubt that accidents will happen as driverless cars enter daily commutes, and a couple of articles recently have asked the questions of what might happen once they are on the road and something, inevitably, goes wrong.

The Atlantic brought up the liability issue back in April. It raised the question of how to apportion blame between humans and the car’s automated systems. If the car has a bug, then will Google be responsible for covering the crash and damages?

Another interesting article from Wired took the discussion even further by bringing up the ethical conundrum used by philosophers and moralists known as the “trolley problem,” which basically asks, if you are manning a runaway trolley with no brakes, and one track leads to a collision that causes five deaths, and another track leads to just one death (maybe even your own), what do you do?

Can automated cars be capable of this type of decision-making? In this fast-paced world, some of these things don’t seem so far-fetched, and we will have to see how other markets that service commuters, such as auto insurance, will adapt as driverless cars slowly make their way onto the highways.

It is an interesting time to be a part of the chauffeured transportation industry, with so many new apps and technologies coming into play. What are your thoughts?

— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor

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