2017 is the year we could see more of Google's robot car on the road,
at least according to Steve Rosenbush with the Wall Street Journal. Although
that depends on whether Google can surmount the policy and legal hurdles
- not to mention the public's legitimate concern for safety - that
naturally come with cars that no longer have a real breathing human being
behind the controls.
That said, there are those who are very optimistic. Rosenbush quotes Bryant
Smith, a fellow at Stanford Law School, who recently organized the Challenges
and Opportunities of Road Vehicle Automation conference.
"I am convinced that when the technology is ready," Smith said,
"the law and policy will make room."
So what kind of room are we talking about here? The kind of room where
you'd be comfortable riding alongside a robot car, relatively unconcerned
for your safety. This isn't such a hard leap to make, though. After
all, it's hard to argue that a computer is prone to getting drunk
or distracted because it wanted to send a text message.
This is also the kind of room where lawmakers have worked out how robot
cars fit into the overall framework of traffic safety regulations. And
the kind of policies insurance companies will sell to guard against
car accidents. And the willingness of insurance companies to actually pay out once a
driverless car does become involved in an accident - which is probably
inevitable, no matter how smart they are.
Under Pressure, Google May Slow Rollout of Driverless Car Technology