Last year, a Tesla car equipped with auto-pilot technology was involved in a fatal accident with a semi-truck. According to news reports released shortly after the accident, the car was traveling straight on the highway when a semi-truck pulled out in front of the car. Both the driver of the vehicle as well as the vehicle’s auto-pilot system failed to detect the bright-white side of the semi-truck, and the car collided with the side of the truck at full speed.
In the wake of the accident, many questions arose not just about the safety of self-driving cars but also regarding the many legal issues that the use of self-driving cars brings up. For example, when a person is operating a self-driving car in auto-pilot mode and a collision occurs, is the manufacturer liable for any injuries to a third party? What about the “driver” of the self-driving car?
These questions are no closer to being answered today than they were at the time of last year’s accident; however, as cases involving self-driving cars work their way through the court system, eventually courts will have to come up with answers to these questions.