Last week, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles held a summit with auto makers and tech companies to discuss proposed regulations for driverless cars. Although no such cars are currently on the market, there is reason to believe they will be here soon.
With this sort of new tech, the legal questions will be nearly endless. Will passengers be allowed to use cell phones? Will they be allowed to drink? What about parking? Who will be responsible for an automobile accident? This is the sort of paradigm shift that hasn’t come about since the shift from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile or the advent of the personal computer.
It goes without saying that the transition will take some time. Would “drivers” be allowed to consume alcohol while “driving?” Does someone still need to be at the “wheel?” What happens when there is no wheel? Could drivers be allowed to fall asleep, only to be woken upon an emergency? Could there be a day when old-fashioned manual driving is actually made illegal?
One thing is certain, most Americans alive today will live to see highways full of cars without drivers.