Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years, you probably realize that the future of automobile transportation in the United States is likely to include some form or autonomous, largely driver-less cars. Almost all of the large technology and automobile companies have driver-less cars at some stage of development. Like it, or not, change is coming.
While the ride-sharing service, Uber, is not directly working on an autonomous car, Uber’s long-term plan includes having a fleet of driverless cars.
Uber took an interesting step forward last week when several media outlets (including Wired.com, here.) reported that Uber has recently hired a couple of hackers. These hackers were recently successful in hacking into a Jeep Cherokee while it was being operated and shutting all of its internal systems down. Apparently, Uber recognizes the risk that hackers pose to this “New World Order” of computer-controlled cars.
As an Orlando car accident attorney, all of this change is very curious to me. I have spent my entire career trying to hold vehicle owners liable for the negligence, carelessness, and general fallibility of human drivers. My focus has been on human traits like attentiveness, being distracted, driving too fast, and other conscious and unconscious decisions.
But what happens when a vehicle is not being operated by a human? After all, machines cannot decide to drive too fast, or to look at their phone instead of where they are going, or to drink too much to alcohol to drive safely.
It seems to me that people in the future will still be injured and/or tragically killed in accidents involving cars. But who will be held responsible, and how? Will every car accident case involve a close examination of the computer code used in each vehicle? Will computer coders be asked to pay damages to injured people if their code is determined to be defective in some way? Will every car accident in the future involve allegations of some kind of hacking as a means of escaping responsibility?
Even the most routine car accident case of the future would seem to demand a technical skill set well outside that of 99.9% of the lawyers that I know. Those of us who want to have a continuing law practice in this area need to be able to adapt quickly, or face extinction. Opportunities would seem to be plentiful for students who want to get in on this stuff on the ground floor.
If you have any questions regarding an Orlando car accident — in today’s world, with human drivers — please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407–254-4901 for a free consultation.