Friday, March 17, 2017

Autonomous Vehicles Laws

They are here and eventually everyone will have one and many, many, many laws are sure to follow. Driver-less cars or "Autonomous Vehicles" in my opinion will make the world a safer and better place.

How many people ride a horse or a buggy to work. The correct answer would be very few. But when cars or the "horseless carriages" were new I am sure many people thought to themselves they would never get in one. Here we are over a century later and now the automobile is going to drive us around. I'm good with that once they get the bugs worked out.

But fast forward a few decades or maybe even sooner and as with all technology the laws will play catch up with autonomous vehicles. Here are a few that I think we are going to have and really need to have.

- No one can drive on the highways manually. Meaning eventually once the technology is sound driving without the aid of the computer will be illegal as it will basically be dangerous.

- Software updates will be required as a part of annual inspection. Similar to smog laws. Also critical security patches will be automatic and required in order to be on public roads.

- Drivers license tests will consist of what to do in a computer malfunction and how to operate the computer systems. No more parallel parking or traffic merging.

- My guess is controlling a fully autonomous vehicle while impaired (drunk, high, tired) is still going to be illegal as you are responsible for any malfunction as well as telling the vehicle where to go.

- In the case of an accident all autonomous vehicles will require highly precise "black boxes" for data tracking and telemetry as well as computer debugging. This way the insurance companies can find out who or what is at fault. The entire insurance system may change as it will be insuring computer code instead of people.

- All Autonomous vehicles in proximity to each other must have basic communications with each other in order to make better and quicker decisions to avoid collisions.

- Hacking or otherwise modifying the autonomous code will be a criminal offense.

- Emergency vehicles can communicate with all surrounding vehicles to clear a path. All autonomous vehicles must obey these emergency vehicles as long as it is safe to move out of the way.

- Personal vehicles can be placed in an emergency mode in case a passenger or the driver needs emergency assistance. For example if someone is having a heart attack the driver/person in control (can call them a pilot) can initiate an emergency request to the nearest hospital. Their vehicle would then have priority through traffic and be allowed to go beyond typical speed limits within reason. To prevent abuse of this system a report with law enforcement would be required after each use. Inappropriate use of the emergency mode would be fined with possible suspension of the operators license.

Beyond the laws there will be special trips and vacations where you can actually drive a car or truck for recreational purposes. Like offloading or racing.

Finally security is going to be a major issue and is already a concern. There has to be "air-gap" in place between critical systems and say a wireless hot-spot in the car or the infotainment system. As other vehicles communicate with each other they must follow a strict set of rules and be truthful and accurate in their information. Bad data from other vehicles can cause collisions.

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