Wednesday , November 25 2020

Autonomous vehicles: who pays when there is an accident?

In fact, it sounds good: cars that drive themselves, pick up passengers and transport them to the place they want. Cars without a driver, without steering wheel, which protect the environment and reduce the number of accidents, because in the end 90% of the road accidents are due to human error.

Euphoria hits reality

Some cases, however, show that the new technique is not as good as it was thought. Also in Germany. Marko Guske of the German Automobile Federation (VDA) says that consumers are currently reluctant to spend much on security systems. "If we pack everything in an attractive, functional way, with greater comfort, with an appropriate technology package, these cars can be better positioned on the market."

Gustke estimates that the first features will be available next year. First on the highway: "We need collision barriers, we break the lines in good conditions so the vehicle can orient and position itself." If there is a congestion, the computer takes the car to a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. There will also be support programs so that from 2022, cars can be run autonomously on highways. But "we are still far from driving without a driver in urban centers," Guske said.

The United States is headed

Autonomous driving has progressed a lot in the United States in recent years. There, the NHTSA, the Road Safety Authority, wants to launch soon-to-be autonomous vehicles that, in certain situations, are handled completely without human intervention. Google has been testing this technology for some time in certain areas that are allowed for it.

These are "level 4" vehicles on the scale of five levels of autonomous driving. Level 5, in which the computer has to dominate driving in all road situations and without human intervention, remains a pure fiction.

From the driver to the ordinary observer?

"Level 1" refers to a vehicle that works largely without automation and has only simple security systems. Under "Level 2," the semi-autonomous car already has passenger lifts and parking, and also assumes driving functions. At Level 3, driving is now quite automated. The car controls driving, but only if the technology works completely. For example, if there are snowstorms or heavy rain that leave the camera and the radar out of action, the system tells people to take control.

But this is a problem, because "people are not meant to be constantly alert," says engineer psychologist Mark Volrath. Automated driving will make the driver bored and do other things. Moreover, the distribution of tasks is not entirely clear. "Does the driver know what the vehicle is doing and what should he do?", Asks Voltar.

The psychologist found that the reaction time was greatly prolonged when people watched only for a long time. In extreme situations even experienced drivers had problems. "Here we have almost three times more accidents than hand-held drivers," he says.

Driver or vehicle liability

Insurers consider this aspect to be an unacceptable risk. Therefore, they require a clear division of tasks between the driver and the technician at all levels.

Position supported by Udo di Fabio, Chairman of the Commission on Ethics of Automation and Interconnected Governance of the Federal Government. In 2017, the Commission drew up 20 theses that serve as a guide to technical implementation. Then, in each situation, who is responsible for driving, the human being or the computer must be clearly identified and identified. "When the vehicle is in operation, the human being should no longer have any responsibility," emphasizes Die Fabio, an exequatur of the German Constitutional Court.

In case of an accident there will be a lot of confusion. "If the driver has to control the technique, then we have to deal with the complex issue of liability when things go wrong," he adds. Who will have to pay for the damage in the event of an accident? "If you drive completely automatically, it's the responsibility of the manufacturer or the developer, but not the man in the car," explains Fabio.

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