Google’s “self-driven” or automated cars

This article from Kenneth Anderson on the Volokh Conspiracy raises some interesting questions as to what liability the manufacture and/or software programmer have if the vehicle is in an accident.  What liability is assigned to the Driver? I wonder how reasonable is it to expect people to devote their full attention to “driving” when the car is driving itself.  That fact, in itself, I think makes it more likely the driver will become distracted by other things. The very act of having to control the car and be aware of your surroundings helps to keep the driver focused on that act.  As less attention is required, it would be natural for the driver’s mind to wander to other things and that much more difficult to stay focused on a task that does not require the driver’s full capacity.

It could make the act of driving to become more monotonous and thus cause the driver to pay less attention. Then if the driver needs to take action to override the computer, he would be less able to do so.  So who then is at fault? Just the driver? Just the manufacturer? Some shared liability between them? Should this liability be predetermined or is it a case by case fact specific inquiry?

As technology changes our laws will have to change with it in order to enable our society to function, which will keep Law a challenging endeavor for many years to come.

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