10 November 2008
The future of driving part three
Rob Fisher

The third and final article in Ars Technica’s series on self-driving cars is about how they will be regulated.  It discusses whether government subsidy or limited liability will be needed to give car manufacturer’s an incentive to introduce the technology.  Subsidy is probably unnecessary as something is either profitable or it is not, but apparently:

At one point, “all of the general aviation manufacturers stopped making planes because they couldn’t handle the liability. They were being found slightly liable in every plane crash, and it started to cost them more than the cost of manufacturing the plane.” Airplane manufacturers eventually convinced Congress to place limits on their liability.

The article goes on to look at who will have control over the software used.  Arguments in favour of open source software are presented, but I don’t think the situation is much different from software used in aviation, so the outcome is likely to be similar.  However, there is concern that the government would like nothing more than to take control of your car.  It seems inevitable that the police will be able to remotely disable it and politicians will control its speed.