I suspect the biggest barrier to the adoption of self-driving cars is not technological [ ... ]. Instead, the impediments will be regulatory and cultural. There are about 40,000 deaths on the America's roads each year with our human drivers. But suppose the robotic cars were 100 times safer. That would still be 400 deaths per year. Can you imagine the public outcry, no to mention the legal judgments, that would follow the first time a human was killed due to an error by a robotic car? Will they have to be 100% perfect before the are adopted?Its easy to see that fear of litigation or over regulation could delay the introduction of this new technology. The government not letting self-driving cars on the road until they are "100% safe" would clearly delay their introduction and cost lives, in much the same way as delays in getting new drugs approved by the FDA does, while fear of legal judgements could stop the firm from introducing the technology.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Technology and people
Erik Brynjolfsson writes at the Economic of Information blog about self-driving cars. He says,