The last few years has seen a number of advances in self-driving vehicle technologies. The cars themselves have left the test tracks and hit the public roads, streets and highways of Florida. In spite of considerable attention that self-driving vehicle manufacturers and operators have received as of late – thanks largely to a spate of highly-publicized auto accidents – the Sunshine State appears to remain bullish on the technology.
Testing by manufacturers and operators is already taking place on Florida’s public roadways, but the state is also backing a $42 million, 2.25 mile track on which self-driving vehicles will be tested. The proving ground, known as SunTrax sits on 475 acres that will allow for safer testing of the technology without private motorists and pedestrians being placed in peril. Construction on the project got underway last year.
Meanwhile, some of the first legal challenges faced by manufacturers of the technology are beginning to be resolved. The incident that received the most widespread media attention – the death of a pedestrian who was hit by a self-driving vehicle that Uber was testing in Tempe, Arizona – was settled quickly by the company before any legal proceedings were undertaken. This month, GM settled with a motorcyclist who was struck by one of its self-driving vehicles in California in December.
The latter was the first resolution of a legal action taken against an automaker for injuries caused by a self-driving vehicle. What the legal landscape will look like for those who are injured in accidents with self-driving vehicles in Florida remains to be seen. What is clear, though, is that victims of accidents caused by autonomous cars will need the assistance of an attorney with considerable experience handling motor vehicle accident cases.