by Bill Mixon our Christian Insurance Guy

It seems most likely to me that the first and maybe the only driverless cars will be cars we rent.  Similar to aircraft, driverless vehicles will just be too expensive and the risks to high for the vast majority of individuals to own. The companies that will lease driverless vehicles to us will provide the insurance and set the ‘tolerances’ in the computer program. If this is the case it will make much more dollars and cents to share the vehicles or just ‘Uber” your ride(s).

Can you imagine how much a computer diagnosis on an automated vehicle will cost you. You see if your local mechanic changes anything at all in a driverless vehicle then that mechanic will be in the front of the line of people to be sued if there is an accident. The legal responsibility will be highest when the tolerances are adjusted.

What do I mean by Tolerances.

Do you want to put your family in a driverless car that will choose to hit a telephone pole or a dog? a telephone pole or a rabbit? a telephone pole or a child on a bike?  Currently each driver makes split second decisions to avoid an accident.

Momentum conservative principle. If two similar vehicles collide it is best to be in the vehicle that is traveling a little faster than the other, do you want your car to be programmed to take this into consideration without your input?  When the service engine light comes on, do you want the discretion to drive to the closest garage or do you want the computer to demand you pay for a tow truck?

Do you want the vehicle you are in to slam on the breaks to miss a pot hole? A brick in the road? A paper bag? If you are out in a very heavy rain do you want the vehicle to refuse to move or move only at 5 miles per hours or zip along right at the speed limit?

Who will set the tolerances and who can adjust the tolences?

I think the first driverless vehicles will be taxis and rental vehicles.

There are companies that offer rental vehicles on college campuses, and in other locations. Zip Cars. You go on line and fill out the application. Pay for your rental. Show up where the vehicles are parked, present your charge card and drive off. They cut out the rental car staff. This will be a great opportunity for driverless cars.

Rental car companies would love to take the wide variety of drivers expertise out of their risk assessment of customers. Driverless cars, computer driven cars, might be far safer for rental vehicle companies than the risk of the average person who rents vehicles.

Uber would love to save few pennies and replace their drivers with a cardboard cutout and speaker.

Uber is testing long haul trucks to be driverless. This seems one of the best first places to develope the technology. Paticularly on those very long boaring roads in the midWest.

Now some of the problems.

If two driverless cars get into an accident who is responsible and who is sued?

If the passanger, sitting in the driver seat or passanger seat, has the power to override the vehicle- do they become liable to any degree?

If a driverless car hits anyone, who is responsible, to what degree and who is sued? The person who rented the car? The person who adjusted the computer programming last? The original programmer? The mechanic? The manufacturer of the vehicle? The owner of the vehicle at the time of the accident? The owner of the dog the car avoided and caused the accident? The city that did not fill in the pot hole?

My biggest concern is how easy might it be to override the vehicle control panel and take control of the 3/4 ton projectile. I wonder if someone could hack one satellite and command an arsenal of vehicles?

As an insurance agent I wonder about all the steps to deal with all the liability exposures before driverless vehicles will be common.