Ten days later, a Mountain View motorcycle cop noticed traffic stacking up behind a Google car going 24 miles an hour in a busy 35 mph zone. He zoomed over and became the first officer to stop a robot car. He didn’t issue a ticket -- who would he give it to? -- but he warned the two engineers on board about creating a hazard.
Who gets the traffic ticket in a self-driving car? The car owner, the manufacturer, the people in the car at the time of the infraction, etc.?
I am most interested in United States, especially California and Massachusetts.
"Driver" means any person driving a vehicle, and includes any person riding a vehicle.
(a) be in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle, and
(b) in relation to a trailer, draw or tow the trailer, and
(c) ride a vehicle.
As written, the ticket would be issued to the person "in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of a vehicle". I think the courts would take the line of least resistance and interpret this to mean the person who turned the vehicle on and selected its destination as they are in control of its movement or propulsion.
As far as I can find, neither CA or MA have enacted laws regarding this yet. Florida, (and probably others) have, however.
Defines “autonomous vehicle” and “autonomous technology.” Declares legislative intent to encourage the safe development, testing and operation of motor vehicles with autonomous technology on public roads of the state and finds that the state does not prohibit or specifically regulate the testing or operation of autonomous technology in motor vehicles on public roads. Authorizes a person who possesses a valid driver's license to operate an autonomous vehicle, specifying that the person who causes the vehicle’s autonomous technology to engage is the operator. Authorizes the operation of autonomous vehicles by certain persons for testing purposes under certain conditions and requires an instrument of insurance, surety bond or self-insurance prior to the testing of a vehicle. Directs the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to prepare a report recommending additional legislative or regulatory action that may be required for the safe testing and operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, to be submitted no later than Feb. 12, 2014.
Emphasis mine. So under this model, the person who put the car on "autopilot" is responsible for whatever the car does while on "autopilot."
Why would you create a hazard by driving slightly below the maximum speed permitted by law under optimal conditions?
Anyway, the main reaon why the engineers are on board is exactly because one of them is legally the driver, i.e. controlling the vehicle. So he would get the ticket. But that of course requires that he has committed a traffic violation.
There may be a different answer if and when we get totally autonomous vehicles and what sort of tech serves as the foundation for their ongoing development or updates.
For example, if the car was speeding due to a glitch in code (or if it performed the wrong action and caused an accident), it is likely the car developer or the AI developer could be liable. By that same token, if an OTA update was released that morning for the vehicle's software and the operator (the terminology used for the "driver" of driverless vehicles) failed to allow it to download and install, the burden would likely shift away from developers to the operator.
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