Electric car does not mean autonomous driving (and the legal complexity behind autonomous driving)



NO! This is a commonly made mistake. Actually the times we are living now, great times by the way, are the join of the development of many technologies that combined is about to give us another way of moving.


We have electric cars thanks to the improvement in batteries and microprocessors that are used to regulate the motors and the management of the battery. It make sense to drive electric cars because now is cheap to obtain clean energy and people are more and more concern about where their energy come from. And we can give car autonomous driving once again thanks to the progress in microprocessors and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

This is why it makes sense to combine this three at the same time in the same product: the electric car. But doesn’t mean it must be only electric. Google, Uber and almost any car brand are trying autonomous driving and not always with electric cars. Of course there are some conditions to comply, the obvious one: the car must be automatic.


Recently we saw in the news the problem that autonomous driving is bringing to companies, especially cars and insurance companies, and governments. What does car driving by its own means. Think about it, if something happen who is the responsible? Maybe the government, for not having the roads enough prepare? Maybe the car company, for not having the software enough well prepare? Should it be the owner as he was the one that sent the car on its own?


And one-step forward. If the cars works under the robotics laws as written by Isaac Asimov:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.


What will happen if the car has to choose between saving your life or saving pedestrians life? How will the car choose? Would you by a car that at some point may choose to kill you?


As you see the problem is much complex now as just 4 wheels and some batteries, now we should talk also about ethics. This is, combine to the lack of maintenance of many roads, the main obstacle to autonomous driving level 4 and 5 arriving to our garage.

You don’t believe me? Do some googling with the words: ethics autonomous driving. You will find pages where you will judge this kind of moral decisions such as this one:

http://moralmachine.mit.edu/


Have fun! After some questions you will realize that it is not easy at all and that maybe you are a monster (no you are not, it is not easy to answer without having some bad feelings).