Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is pointing to the possibility of a driver being held responsible for an accident as it moves to unveil its turn signal. Debate on who is to be held responsible in case a driverless car causes an accident continues, even as more driverless features become available. It is a debate that has split the auto industry even before regulators are called upon to give their verdict.
Tesla’s Overtaking Function
The turn signal that that tells a car it is okay to overtake another car will be triggered only when a driver has given thought and concluded the maneuver is safe. The fact that a driver will be the one triggering the function essentially indicates that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) believes the driver should at all times be in control and the one to be held responsible.
The turn signal highlights how far off the driverless car technology is. The need to have drivers engaged in operating driverless cars is one of the measures that automakers like Tesla Motors Inc are using to avoid immense regulatory scrutiny.
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Legal and Regulatory Scrutiny
Developed cars with driver assistance features still require drivers to be active throughout a journey as regulators remain skeptical about the safety aspect of cars that don’t require drivers to be engaged at all. Tesla knows very well that it will be hard to get the regulators’ approval on cars that are fully driverless, have opted to develop features that still require humans to perform some tasks.
Driverless cars have not yet been programmed to substantiate standoffs on the roads that may be a matter of life or death, something that humans can do to some degree with some precision. Just like other automakers, Tesla Motors is working on some features that are poised to take autopilot to another level while handling most of the duties on the road.
Legal battles and regulatory scrutiny pose the biggest headwind on autonomous cars being allowed on normal roads anytime soon. Drivers will still be required to stay engaged in autonomous cars until regulators are satisfied that the technology is well advanced beyond human driving abilities while guaranteeing the highest level of safety.