California Legalizes Autonomous Cars
We’ve posted about self-driving Google cars in the past and these vehicles continue to make relative leaps and bounds to actual implementation. For a while Google was driving them…err, letting them drive themselves…under the premise that because a law has not deemed autonomous cars illegal then they are free to let them operate. Well, the state of California has now circumvented that premise completely and went ahead and legalized their operation, so long as there is an operator present to take over if need be.
Although not bike-centric in nature, the development and implementation of this technology has obviously direct consequences for cyclists. Cars are, after all, the greatest threat to our safety so it’s worth paying attention to any development that might mitigate some of the human error in our transportation choices. It might even be a cause to champion by bicycle advocacy/alternative transportation groups, if the vehicles do prove to lower car / bicycle collisions.
There are those pesky moral considerations, however. How does a car react to a shopping cart and baby stroller rolling in front of it. Which does it decide to hit? And when it does cause a fatality, who is responsible? I mean, how would you feel if you were hospitalized by a self-driving car that had no other choice but to hit you in order to avoid hitting someone else. Who do you get to pay your bills? It’s a tricky moral consideration, but hopefully such circumstances would be minimized and overall we end up developing vehicles that kill LESS cyclists than the current state of affairs.