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It’s hard to dispute that autonomous vehicles – in some form – are the future of the automotive industry. From Tesla to Google to Uber, numerous companies across the nation have had their hands in headline-grabbing projects. Fully driverless cars are currently undergoing testing in a number of states. Wisconsin may be next.
Last month, Governor Scott Walker took the first step toward allowing driverless cars on Wisconsin roads. A newly formed steering committee will provide recommendations on how to oversee testing and pave the way for regulating driverless cars.
A new direction in the automotive world
Wisconsin has historically been the heartbeat of the nation’s automotive industry. Driverless cars, however, are in many ways more a product of Silicon Valley-type tech-heads than Henry Ford.
Although one of the goals of driverless technology is to reduce traffic fatalities, that’s far from a sure thing. Taking the human out of the equation does eliminate dangers such as distractions and drunk driving. However, safe driving involves countless variables. In some situations, there’s simply no substitute for flesh-and-blood human judgment.
Weighing the risks
With any new technology comes risks, and driverless cars are no exception. It may take decades of fine-tuning to iron out all the unforeseen hiccups and hazards.
In the meantime, when accidents do occur, they’re bound to raise challenging legal questions such as:
Of course, there are upsides to driverless cars, too. The technology certainly has the potential to save lives. And crash investigations may become far easier – and more detailed – due to the wealth of data stored by autonomous vehicles.
As in other aspects of life, the law will have to evolve to keep pace with ever-changing technology.