The self-drive, autonomous, or driver-less automobiles that we are expecting to start popping up on our roads pretty soon have quite a few interesting questions surrounding them. It's the old "onion" analogy; when you peel off one layer, another appears.
Who is responsible when a fully autonomous car crashes (or when two crash into each other)? Who is responsible when a semi-autonomous car crashes (one with "driver assist")? How will auto insurance approach all this - will premiums increase, decrease, head off in wild directions? Is the car's Artificial Intelligence considered the driver, in the way a human driver would?
A lot of questions, many of which don't have answers yet.
"If you have a catastrophic failure of a product, you can sue the bejeezus out of a company," said John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, "if the product causes the crash."
Washington PostGoogle has said that, yes, it understands that dynamic and the possibility it could be held accountable for crashes where its cars are at fault. Driverless cars could therefore expand the range of Google's future legal responsibilities in a very real way.