Some call it the wave of the future. But others feel less certain about a car that drives itself. Google says the prototype it’s building is safer for passengers and pedestrians.
Is a self-driving car really safer?
Imagine getting into a vehicle that has no steering wheel, accelerator or brakes. The only control you have over it is pushing two buttons, one to make the car go and one to make it stop (but that’s just in an emergency).
That’s exactly what Google would like to see on the roads, an electric-powered subcompact vehicle that drives itself. And the selling point? It’s safer for occupants and pedestrians.
The following are some of the safety features of these self-driving cars:
- 360 degree field of view radar;
- sensors that eradicate blind spots;
- cameras that allow a wider field of view than that in a standard automobile; and
- ability to detect objects far in the distance.
The Independent writes, “Google says that its cars have driven more than 700,000 miles and tests show they can watch for pedestrians and other surprises as well as human drivers can.”
If an accident does occur, the missing steering wheel, column and front dash reduces the risk of injury. Why? There are fewer hard parts for the occupant to strike. Also, some of the material in the vehicle provides better protection in a crash. This includes a compressible foam front end and a flexible windshield.
Other important features are a screen that shows occupants the route and the ability to travel 100 miles on a battery. It’s equipped with two seats, space for belongings and seat belts.
The prototype currently doesn’t go faster than 25 mph. But Google envisions that upon demonstrating the car’s safety, it could significantly increase the speed. Also, the compact design would allow for more vehicles to share the road, even if they are close together.
The company also has specific consumers they would like to target with the Google self-driving cars, this includes:
- the disabled;
- the elderly; and
- people who can’t afford a vehicle.
They also foresee the ability to share the car with others to reduce costs. It might sound a little bit like science fiction. But with safety concerns on the rise in the auto manufacturing industry, it might not be so farfetched. Many consumers are after all weary of the frequent recalls stemming from safety-related defects.
How could the Google self-driving car affect accident claims?
It’s not quite clear how this new self-driving vehicle would affect an insurance claim if it is involved in an accident. Some have suggested manufacturer liability for an accident if the Google car causes the collision; after all, with no steering wheel or brakes, it might be hard to hold the occupants responsible.
Of course, if another car manually operated by a driver strikes the Google car and is to blame for the accident, then it’s probably safe to say that that driver is responsible.
In the meantime, if you’re in an accident, check out Cordisco & Saile’s free guide to car accident cases if you’re in a wreck in Bensalem or nearby areas.