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How to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles

New Jersey residents may have heard about the Uber vehicle that fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona on March 18. At the time of the crash, the vehicle was traveling on a dark road at night, and there was not enough light for it to detect the pedestrian before impact. The professor says that the car should have been designed to assume that there could have been a person or another object in that poorly lit area.

Instead, autonomous vehicles are designed with some of the same bad driving habits that humans have. Going forward, the professor argues that they should be designed to place a premium on safety as opposed to familiarity. This would mean that they drive at speeds slow enough to come to a complete stop if an object is detected suddenly. Furthermore, an autonomous vehicle should have higher expectations placed on it to avoid an accident compared to a human driver.

This is because systems controlled by a computer should be able to guarantee a particular outcome while in operation. For instance, a system could be designed to ensure that the brakes are applied within a millisecond after an obstacle is detected. While the accident has raised concerns about the safety of autonomous vehicles, authorities in Tempe say that Uber was likely not responsible for causing it.

If a person is injured or killed in a car accident, the driver who caused the accident may be liable for damages. Injured victims could be compensated for medical bills or lost wages as a result of the accident. The families of those who are killed in an accident could be compensated for their losses in a wrongful death action.

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