Robots have long been considered to be part of the far-flung future. However, autonomous machines that take care of tasks for humans may be much closer that we anticipate. They just look a little more like KITT from Knight Rider than Data from Star Trek.
The most recent step forward for autonomous technology comes from Silicon Valley’s self-driving truck startup Plus. The company has recently raised more than $200 million in capital to grow its technology and fleet.
Plus may be the first to focus so successfully on trucking, but it’s not alone in looking to overhaul how we use the roads. California has already issued Autonomous Vehicle Driverless Testing Permits to six other self-driving car companies: Autox Technologies, Baidu, Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and Zoox. If Plus continues on its current path, it may join them shortly. The question for California citizens is simple: is this safe?
Why Autonomous Trucks?
The push for autonomous trucking is understandable from a business perspective. Currently, the highest costs and risks in trucking come from the human drivers themselves. Truckers need to rest, they need to be paid, and they need to be trained how to drive individually.
Replacing human drivers with autonomous trucks can trim downtime to nothing but stops to refuel and occasional repairs. It would likely also save costs in the long run, since autonomous trucks wouldn’t require paying a driver by the mile. Some argue that autonomous trucks would even be safe down the line since they aren’t subject to distraction or impairment due to fatigue.
Risks of Self-Driving Cars
That doesn’t mean that self-driving vehicles are without their risks. Their potential future capabilities mean nothing to the people who need to share the road with them today. The reason that the California DMV has only issued driverless road testing permits to six companies is because these vehicles are still learning how to drive in real-world conditions. If they’re truly driverless, there’s no one behind the wheel to take over if things go wrong.
It’s not a casual worry, either. Self-driving cars have already been involved in several dozen accidents nationwide, and fatalities have occurred. Studies also suggest that self-driving cars wouldn’t change the outcome of two-thirds of all car accidents. Adding larger vehicles like shipping tractor trailers to the mix may only improve the bottom line for big businesses instead of making roads safer.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt
Self-driving, autonomous vehicles are an interesting concept, but California may not be ready for them. The problem is that manufacturers and developers are forging ahead anyway. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident with a self-driving car, you’re one of a growing group of people with similar problems. Reach out to a qualified car accident attorney to discuss your case and learn more about what you can do in the aftermath of your accident.