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  • Writer's pictureMike Entner

Who’s to Blame When Things Go Wrong with Autonomous Vehicles?

By Michael Entner-Gómez | Digital Transformation Officer | Entner Consulting Group, LLC.

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are on the brink of revolutionizing transportation, promising heightened safety, efficiency, and convenience. But as we edge closer to this future, a significant hurdle looms large: the issue of personal responsibility in AV-related incidents. The recent robotaxi accidents involving Cruise vehicles underscore this challenge (Kyle Vogt, CEO of Robotaxi Developer Cruise, Resigns as Questions Linger Over Grisly Crash), posing a threat to the progression of autonomous transportation.

Central to this dilemma is the question of liability in accidents. Traditional vehicle accidents are typically assessed based on human driver actions. However, AVs transfer decision-making from humans to algorithms, leading to complex legal and ethical quandaries. In an AV incident, who is held accountable? Is it the manufacturer, the software developer, or the seemingly powerless passenger? Determining where liability lies is not only a legal puzzle but a matter of public trust and technological progress.

The current lack of clear guidelines and regulations around AV accident liability creates a legal grey zone. This uncertainty not only complicates matters of insurance and compensation but also dents public confidence in AV technology. People's hesitance to accept AVs will persist as long as the responsibility in accidents remains unclear.

Moreover, this ambiguity could hinder innovation. Manufacturers and software developers might be reluctant to advance AV technology for fear of being held liable for accidents. This apprehension could dampen the strides needed to realize AVs' full potential, including their role in reducing traffic accidents and enhancing road safety.

The resolution of this issue demands a concerted effort. Lawmakers, manufacturers, and the public must collaborate to establish clear, well-defined regulations and standards. These should not only safeguard consumers but also foster innovation in the AV sector.

Navigating personal responsibility in AV and other AI-driven technologies is a complex task, but it is a crucial path to tread in our journey towards automation. Ignoring the need for comprehensive planning and accountability in technology failures is not an option.

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