Self-Driving Car Research by Georgia Tech Students Raises Questions About Future of Vehicle Crash Liability; Attorney Big Al Advocates for Further Research

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A recent breakthrough in driverless car technology has made driverless cars safer to drive under extreme conditions. Some experts, like Attorney Big Al, are concerned that more research is necessary before these cars can be called truly road-safe.

Attorney Big Al working actively on a case with an employee of his at his desk while she stands next to him taking notes.

Attorney Big Al, Alon Barzakay, Working a Case

Driverless cars represent an ambiguous legal question for the coming decades.

A recent technological breakthrough by a Georgia Institute of Technology research team will allow driverless cars to have better control of the vehicle under adverse circumstances. The new technology, lead by researchers in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and the School of Interactive Computing, increases vehicular stability under extreme handling conditions, making driverless cars safer in hazardous driving conditions.

The researchers tested autonomous rally cars at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour by racing, sliding, and jumping the vehicles to test them at the edges of their performance capability. Sophisticated on-board algorithms and new sensors allowed the cars to spontaneously adapt to extreme driving conditions.

As advancements in self-driving cars continue to arrive, many people have questions about the safety of a vehicle with no human in a vehicle to take control if something goes wrong. These new algorithms developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology team may ease some of these fears, but still, as these cars get more advanced, experts wonder what the future of driverless cars will mean for vehicle crashes and car crash litigation. Simply put, can you sue a driverless car for causing damage, even with good sensors and algorithms to reduce the likelihood that a driverless car could crash?

Attorney Big Al of the 1-800-HURT-123 firm deals with thousands of vehicle accident litigation cases, and is an expert on the subject. He responded to the question of litigation by saying, “Driverless cars represent an ambiguous legal question for the coming decades. There are so few of these cars on the road currently, but that’s going to change. Liability will likely fall to the owner of the car, whether they were driving or not. But, in some senses, the software that controls the cars directions is to blame, so it will be interesting to see what the law makes of it in fifty years.”

Statistically, self-driving cars have much lower crash rates than human drivers. Google’s self-driving cars, active since 2009, have had only one accident, so a rise in driverless cars could mean an overall reduction in crash rates. Big Al, however, added, “The Georgia team’s research was impressive and a good step forward, but more testing is important before these vehicles hit the roads in large numbers.”

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