Driverless technology is almost here, and it’s both exciting and a little frightening. In January, 2017, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Detroit Auto Show (DAS) clarified the future of driverless vehicles with new advances in design and technology. If you haven’t kept up with the latest developments, you have some surprises ahead. But, in a word, your vehicular future is looking a lot more automatic, and we don’t mean transmissions.
What’s New is Really New
Only a few of the many technological changes quickly motoring towards you are these:
- A minivan goes driverless. Waymo, a company owned by Alphabet (the parent company of Google), has created the technology. The van itself is from Fiat Chrysler and is a converted Pacifica model. Waymo, which is focusing on developing tech that they can license to automakers, also plans to create a kit that could be integrated into non-converted vehicles. Testing the minivan on public roads in California and Arizona is set to begin any day.
- Cars that teach themselves to drive better. The Israeli technology company Mobileye is supposed to start testing driverless cars in the U.S. later in 2017. The testing, which will occur in partnership with both Intel and BMW, will showcase a learning system for vehicles that will improve a vehicle’s decision-making skills and navigation abilities.
- Several concept cars were unveiled. One of them was the BMW Inside Future, complete with a steering wheel that folds away, entertainment via a backseat screen, a touch-free control system, and even a bookshelf.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants go big time. The Concept-i car presented by Toyota, which features an AI assistant called Yui, will help drivers take care of routine tasks while driving with the aim of improving safety. Full autonomy still seems a way off for the Toyota car. Ford is taking a similar tack with the Fusion hybrid autonomous car it brought to the show; the car integrates the AI assistant Alexa (from Amazon) in the test model. Both BMW and Nissan have plans to integrate Cortana, Microsoft’s AI assistant.
- Fully-autonomous and fully-electric: General Motors announced that a fully-autonomous version of their all-electric car, the Chevy Bolt, is currently under development.
- Three trends in one. Honda’s concept car showed off driverless tech and ride-sharing in an all-electric car called the NeuV. The car would be used by a ride-sharing service while the owner is either working or otherwise occupied.
Hey, Ma, No Hands!
Honda also debuted a motorcycle that can balance itself without needing the rider to use the handlebars. The bike and its new technology, called Moto Riding Assist, were both unveiled at the CES. Moto Riding Assist largely diminishes the chances of the bike’s falling over while at rest. It’s thought that the new technology will decrease accidents while enhancing drivability.
Rapid Changes Require Deliberation
All of these new developments mean that our automotive future is shifting rapidly, with the emphasis on increased safety via cutting-edge technology. Of course, it’s not possible to know how all of this new tech and artificial intelligence will change our way of life on the road, but implementing it in the legal realm will require careful thought. A few of the issues we, as a society, will need to consider include:
- How will drivers’ education classes, testing, and licensing need to change?
- How do traffic laws need to change? Do we need entirely new ones?
- If there will be fewer crashes (as is predicted), how will that fact change liability laws and insurance requirements?
- How will driverless vehicles affect pedestrians and bicyclists? Will they be safer on the road?
- How can we prevent our vehicles from being hacked?
We certainly have some tough issues to ponder.
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Should you or a loved one become involved in a vehicular accident, the Louthian Law Firm can help you navigate the complexities of South Carolina’s laws, deal with the insurance companies, and assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, repair bills, lost income, and any other financial costs that the accident caused. Where appropriate, we’ll also seek compensation on your behalf for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses.
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