By Gord Price
The Sun has been running a series on the state of Motordom. Today: driverless cars, or AVs – automated vehicles.
A quote from Clark Lim, adjunct prof at UBC:
Lim foresees a future with lightweight electric engines and smaller, perhaps thinner models that save space; gaps on the roads between vehicles will be a thing of the past because computers see the world at 1,000 times a second — instant reaction times, in effect — and are able to tailgate without colliding, he says. “An autonomous car can drive very closely behind because there are instantaneous reactions,” he says.
Which means that they have to be failsafe, since even a single accident could have catastrophic consequences. And not just in lives and injuries. The liability consequences to the owner or those determined to be negligent would be financially catastrophic too.
So (1) how likely is it that all AVs will work perfectly all the time? And (2) in order to assure that AVs are as close to perfection as possible in design, construction and maintenance, how expensive will they have to be?
If only a minority of people and businesses can afford them (and especially to maintain them at liability-proof standards), how likely is it that they AVs will replace the far-less-than-perfect but affordable non-automated car in sufficient numbers for the above scenario to work?
And what happens to liability insurance for them?