The Amazon-owned company, Zoox, will begin testing its autonomous (driverless) vehicles right here in Seattle very soon. Reportedly, the startup is excited to test the cars here partly because of our challenging weather conditions.
Representatives of Zoox say these tests “give our vehicle and AI (artificial intelligence)” an opportunity to tackle new challenges such as different:
- Weather patterns
- Driving culture
As established Washington state residents, we want to know one thing. Are these autonomous vehicles safe?
Possible pedestrian and car accident hazards
Nearly everyone still remembers the infamous Tesla driverless vehicle test that killed a Tempe pedestrian back in 2018. Have the dangers of autonomous automobiles been eliminated, or are they still present?
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine NAE), autonomous vehicles still come with several risks. They identify two critical hazards that may put pedestrians and motorists in jeopardy:
- Street-testing. The NAE wisely points out that systems designed, built, and maintained by mere humans will sooner or later fail. Since street tests are the only way to determine if autonomous vehicles are safe, car and pedestrian accidents will likely occur. Even with a human monitor present, crashes can still happen.
- Lack of ethics. An AI cannot make decisions the same way humans do. For example, if a crash danger arises with pedestrians in the area, how does an AI decide its next steps? These concerns become even more problematic if the driverless automobile contains passengers. Will the AI choose to protect its passengers ahead of motorists and pedestrians?
For answers, we must wait and see how the Zoox street-testing stage proceeds. We caution you to be safe when driving or walking near Zoox vehicles. If you experience a car or pedestrian accident involving a driverless automobile (or under any circumstances), it is wise to learn more about your legal options.