A Tesla Model 3 was spotted recently in Hickory, NC near the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Hwy 70 SW equipped with Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability.
WHAT IS AUTOPILOT AND HOW DO FULLY AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES WORK?
Instead of relying solely on radar, Tesla has developed a camera-based system that they refer to as Tesla Vision. The cameras work with a neural net processor to reduce the workload on a driver. Currently, the system still requires fully active driver supervision with your hands on the wheel and prepared to take over control at any given moment. The system’s capabilities will improve over time and continuously upgraded on its way to becoming a fully autonomous vehicle.
Other vehicles are powered by Waymo’s system of sensors and computers to achieve the same long term goals of becoming fully autonomous. Waymo’s system uses radar, cameras, sensors, and lidar, along with advanced computer processing to achieve full self-driving status.
WILL THERE STILL BE CAR WRECKS WITH SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES?
The technology for self-driving vehicles is designed with a goal of reducing the number of car crashes across the country. In Catawba County, NC where Hickory is located, there are an average of 4,811 car accidents per year. The Self Driving Coalition which is made up of Waymo, Ford, and Uber estimates that just the reduction in driving while impaired and distracted driving related crashes could represent a significant reduction in as many as 43% of all car accidents. For the Hickory, NC area, that could mean a reduction of more than 2000 car wrecks per year.
Self-Driving Vehicles will not eliminate all car wrecks. For the foreseeable future, there will still be plenty of vehicles operated by a driver and subject to human error, driver fatigue, and poor judgment. However, any reduction in serious injuries from an automobile accident in Hickory, NC would be welcome news.
WILL I STILL NEED A LAWYER IF I AM INVOLVED IN A WRECK WITH A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE?
Yes. Laws will evolve over time to account for fully autonomous vehicles. For example, North Carolina passed legislation in 2017 regarding the regulation of fully autonomous vehicles. As the technology improves and self-driving vehicles become more commonplace, we can expect more legislation to deal with the complexities of driver fault while overriding the self-driving operation of a vehicle.
HOW WILL INSURANCE COMPANIES DETERMINE FAULT FOR SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE WRECKS?
This area of the law will continue to develop over time to ensure that negligence is still accounted for and lawyers like those at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor will continue to lead the way toward encouraging the innovations of safer vehicle travel while still ensuring that there is a fair system of compensation for serious injuries when the technology fails.
I BOUGHT A TESLA SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE, CAN I SLEEP ON MY WAY TO WORK?
No. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have identified 6 levels of vehicle automation (Levels 0-5). Level 5 is the only level where there is no control expected of the occupant. For all other levels, driver input is expected at some level of involvement.
All current vehicles on the market in the US require driver input. Even if you have purchased the latest technology, your vehicle is not truly self-driving. It doesn’t matter if you have Tesla Autopilot, Ford BlueCruise, GM Supercruise, or any other technology marketed as self-driving, it is never ok to fall asleep and be unable to take control when the driving situation requires.
If you are seriously injured in an accident with a self-driving vehicle, contact one of our experienced car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor in Hickory to discuss how to pursue a claim for your injuries. Our professional staff and attorneys are always actively involved in the environment of changing technology and we will always protect the rights of those who are injured through no fault of their own.