For the last few years, the "self-driving" car has been a dream not only for tech companies and car companies, but the general public as well. Imagine living in world where no one drove anymore -- drastically reducing car accidents and making that time you spend in the car actually useful and constructive. It would be great, wouldn't it?
But the testing for these autonomous vehicles has to be extensive because of what is at stake. We're talking about letting cars drive themselves -- of course it is going to take a lot of time to research and implement a self-driving system.
That said, you would think that by this point, these cars would be far along and almost never making a mistake. But that doesn't seem to be the case yet. Google recently admitted that one of their self-driving cars was involved in an accident, and that it was partially responsible for the wreck.
This presents the problem that many see with self-driving cars: what happens when they are involved in an accident? Obviously, some laws and procedures are going to have to be implemented, wholly revised or completed invented out of thin air to deal with this complicated legal situation.
Self-driving cars certainly promise a better, and safer, future on the roads. But the complicated questions still need to be answered. When self-driving cars do become widely used by the public, there are going to be some complex and serious legal matters that need to be attended to in the wake of a car accident.
Source: NBC News, "Google Robot Car Bears 'Some Responsibility' in California Accident," Feb. 29, 2016