THE OMNIPOTENT PROGRAMMER: AN ETHICAL AND LEGAL ANALYSIS OF AUTONOMOUS CARS

Author: 

William J. Tronsor

When people think of self-driving cars, they most likely conjure up images of themselves relaxing in their car, possibly watching Netflix, while their car takes them to their destination.  While that may not be far from a reality, with the Center for Automotive Research predicting that the first fully autonomous vehicles will be available in 2019, it is not the type of self-driving cars you would see on the market today.  Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined vehicle automation as having five different levels.  The first level is level zero, meaning that the vehicle has no automation and the driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle controls such as, brakes, steering, and the throttle at all times. This ranges all the way to level four automation, where the vehicle is fully automated. A vehicle classified as having level four automation is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for the entire trip. All the driver would need to do is set the destination and they would not be expected to be available for control at any time during the trip. View More.