Autonomous car: who will be responsible in case of an accident?
The autonomous car, the next small revolution in the world of transport, intends to free human beings from the constraints and risks of driving. But will it also release the burden of responsibility?
Tesla, Google, Audi, PSA… Let’s not count the major car makers and big tech companies competing for a place in the autonomous car market. While 90% of accidents result from human errors: speed, driving under the influence of alcohol, fatigue, inattention, etc. – Intelligent vehicles should (finally) become a road safety reality.
Sure, there will likely be fewer accidents, but not non-existent. Experts point out that autonomous vehicles will have to deal with many problems, including human drivers driving classic cars, pedestrians, cyclists and so on. All of these factors increase the risks. Furthermore, autonomous cars have already claimed victims …
In 2016, an American died following an accident at the wheel of a Tesla autopilot, the name of the automatic steering system.
After an investigation, it turned out that the cameras failed to detect a white truck due to poor lighting conditions. But the question of responsibility becomes heavy when an autonomous car accident causes fatalities!
The delicate question of legal responsibility
In the event of an accident, we should blame the car owner, the driver who should have taken the wheel, the car manufacturer, the computer company that developed the software or thesmart car who chose to sacrifice the victim to save his passenger? These vehicles raise ethical questions, the answers to which do not yet exist.
Faced with the imminent arrival of these vehicles on our roads, there is also a lack of legislation. It will depend on the states, not forgetting the role of auto insurance. Meanwhile, experts agree that the responsibility will likely lie with the car manufacturers.
The scale has six levels from 0 to 5, where 0 means that the human driver fully controls the vehicle. Currently, level 2 cars with driver assistance, such as emergency braking or autonomous parking, are already on the market. At this point and up to level 3, the human remains responsible and must always be ready to regain control: an accident can be due to his lack of vigilance.
From level 4, the car takes responsibility for all these maneuvers, because any human intervention will be useless, if not impossible, in the case of level 5 where the steering wheel will no longer exist. Experts predict the arrival of these higher levels by 2020.