The population of Texas is expected to double by 2050. From housing availability to roads, this growth will impact the state's infrastructure in previously unforeseen ways. Although there could be more cars on the road due to a population boom, we may actually see fewer drivers. Ten million driverless cars, popularized by the brand Tesla, are expected to hit the road by 2020, and a large portion of them could be in Texas.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently selected areas of the Lone Star State as one of 10 proving grounds for automated vehicles and their technological capabilities. TexDOT will partner with Texas A&M, University of Texas, the Southwest Research Institute and 32 cities for testing. While the prospect of new cars is exciting, it raises concerns for crash risks and responsibilities for drivers on the road.
How will driverless cars react to accidents?
New research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addresses how people might want a driverless car to react when faced with the potential for an accident. So far, researchers find that people have utilitarian, or "greater good," expectations for technology. The study shows that people would rather have the car sacrifice one passenger to save a group of pedestrians, but those same individuals may not want to be the passenger.
Would a human driver act so selflessly? The psychological barriers we put on ourselves could "undermine the entire industry," according to researchers. While sacrificing one passenger to save a larger group is perhaps what is best for society as a whole, we might feel uncomfortable when put in the passenger's perspective individually.
Driverless cars raise new ethical questions
Researchers admit that, so far, testing for life or death situations in real time has been limited, but it could be one of the problems addressed in local research of driverless cars. According to MIT, "risk management" is the current focus of a driverless car's accident response. However, computers are unable to account for the ethical dilemma each situation provides.
Many of the regulations surrounding driverless cars have yet to be written, which could leave those involved in accidents uncertain of where to turn for help. Where the law may be unable to account for your situation, a personal injury lawyer can address the ethical questions and help you gain access to the care and compensation you need for recovery.
While technology may leave many cars without a driver, victims of accidents are still in control through civil courts.