Today’s transportation technologies offer an endless array of exciting options. We share rides. Cars park themselves. Driverless cars are being tested on public roads. As artificial intelligence and automation revolutionize how we drive, they upend conventional wisdom about liability. As we adapt to new ways of getting around , so too will the way we think about risk and exposure.
Road users deserve to contribute to the conversation many in the transportation industry and academia are having about the future of mobility and the safety of this new world. Consumers must be part of the decision making as the future users of driverless cars, and the people most vulnerable to their risks. They are the voters who decide whether to support autonomous-vehicle testing grounds and regulatory pilot programs that support experimentation. They will sit on juries and allocate liability when accidents inevitably happen. And they will evaluate government and industry responses should a cyber breach occur.
Risks are inherent to this new technology, which puts control of the wheel and human lives in the hands of a computer. The responsibility will shift largely from human to machine, blurring the lines between personal and commercial risks. What is unclear is where the exposure will emerge or how quickly it will materialize. Does it lie with auto manufacturers, software developers and parts manufacturers? Perhaps the road construction companies and local governments responsible for infrastructure that communicates with vehicles? The communications providers or a yet-to-be-invented enabling technology?
The experts will debate these questions for quite some time. Responses will vary by experience and may be influenced by age and shaped by geography and cultural disposition. No doubt perceptions will evolve over time.
This paper begins to plot that journey with an analysis of perceptions of 1,000 road users in the United States, 400 in Singapore and 400 in the United Kingdom.
Professor Emeritus Robert Peterson and Professor Dorothy Glancy at Santa Clara University School of Law, located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, used poll questions and analysis to carefully consider the idea of risk shifting with the future of mobility. We are grateful to their years of studying this topic, and for their feedback that enriched this analysis.