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Miami Truck Accident Attorneys Question Whether Autonomous Trucks will Live up to Promises of Increased Safety

Our Miami truck accident attorneys report that Tesla, Google, Uber, and others have developed self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles. Self-driving tractor-trailer trucks are the next big thing to hit the market. Developers proclaim that the autonomous tractor-trailer units are much safer than their human counterparts. But will they be? While autonomous vehicles potentially can remove human error from the driving equation, no one can be certain that no errors will occur. One can easily envision a scenario where the self-driving truck loses control because of a computer error, whereas a human driver would have been able to stop or control the truck.

Uber, which is a trend-setting company that stood the traditional taxi system on its head, claims it has an autonomous truck on the road near its headquarters daily. While technology is evolving, the self-propelled system operates with a combination of global positioning satellite, laser technology LIDAR, and mounted video cameras working harmoniously creating a 3-dimentional map to guide the truck.  The lasers measure distances from mounts on the front and sides of the vehicle. The underlying philosophy the startup company Otto (Uber bought Otto a short time ago), who developed the technology for autonomous trucks, came from the idea that computers would act as co-pilots for weary drivers. Initially, Otto’s plan was to outfit the computer-based co-piloting system on tractor-trailers to allow drivers to sleep during long highway stretches. The truck would come to a stop and allow the operator to resume control to exit the freeway.  Otto proclaims the safest means to accomplish the changeover from computer to driver is to stop at a designated rest area.

Otto’s innovators argue that autonomous highway driving is the easiest and most efficient way to utilize the technology in tractor-trailer driving.  Simply put, highways are easier to navigate than streets. Highways provide greater predictability for the autonomous vehicle because there are fewer obstacles and fewer unpredictable events like pedestrians walking in front of the trucks. Traffic controls such as four-way stops and traffic lights further compound the safety issues present in street driving.

One of the greatest concerns is that the guidance systems will malfunction and send a 20-ton vehicle on a collision course with everything in its path. Computer bugs happen, and technology fails. Many things in the self-driving mechanism have the potential to fail. Lag time or loss of signal from the GPS could confuse the self-driving system.  Even the most accurate GPS systems have a 3.5-foot margin or error. The margin of error is meaningless if you are following directions to a location on your mobile device, it is quite another when the computer steers the truck into traffic due to an imprecise GPS calculation.  Additionally, lidar laser measuring devices could lose power and therefore be unable to measure the required distances between vehicles. Additionally, emergencies happen on the roads constantly. The question of how an autonomous vehicle would react to unpredictable situations is an enormous problem. Similarly, how would the truck act if the brakes let go while heading downhill. Hopefully, the autonomous system would direct the rig to an emergency stopping lane or ramp to control the lost vehicle. These two scenarios raise the question of whether the vehicle has the capability to react as a human would.

Truck Accidents Can Ruin Lives

If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a truck accident, it is time to talk with our South Florida truck crash attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano. They have a combined 130 years of litigation experience helping clients fight for the compensation they deserve. Call the Florida trucking accident law firm that the Miami Herald rated tops in Miami, and Martindale-Hubbell rated as an AV firm, at 888-499-9700 or (305) 595-2400, to schedule your free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602307/uber-is-betting-well-see-driverless-18-wheelers-before-taxis/

http://www.alertdriving.com/home/fleet-alert-magazine/north-america/self-driving-truck-addressing-liability

 

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