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Toyota jumps into driverless taxi race

Reuters reported in late October that Toyota had invested around $10 million in Getaround, a ride-sharing service based out of San Francisco that was founded in 2009. Getaround is different from services like Uber, as users of Getaround can search their local area for available privately-owned rental cars that they can rent and use personally for as little at $5.  Users have access to these rental vehicles for a certain amount of time, rather than simply being ferried from one location to the next like with Lyft or Uber. Automotive speculative analysts have reasoned that Toyota’s investment in a ride-sharing entity indicates they are stacking their chips for the upcoming industrial boom of driverless taxi services. Some project that the first fully-automated driving services will be enacted by 2020.

The potential benefits of driverless taxi services are multiple, and are enough for more than 18 large companies to invest resources into at least studying its practicality. In theory, they can create less traffic, lessen pollution, and increase the efficiency and safety of roads. Of course, on the other hand, a world filled with driverless taxis means millions of taxi drivers and drivers who work for companies like Uber will be out of a job.  While the technology is essentially ready for implementation, the legal framework surrounding driverless cars and taxis is a continuously-developing headache. There is no telling how legislation will translate between federal, state, and local lines, or if it will be possible to form any solid ground rules anytime soon.

After all, who is at fault when an accident inevitably occurs between a human driver and a driverless car? How about an accident that occurs between two autonomous vehicles? There are hundreds of possible factors in play and dozens of parties that could be at fault. Taking into consideration these uncertainties, most analysts don’t foresee driverless taxis making a significant impact on the world for at least a decade or two.  No matter how this industry, plucked straight from the pages of science fiction, pans out in the future, the fact that huge companies such as Toyota are entering the driverless car game proves that this is no fad or silly pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Driverless cars, and taxis, are coming sooner rather than later.

Always be prepared, driver or no driver

Uber recently launched a test run of their driverless taxi service in Pittsburgh over the summer – with one major condition; there is always a driver and an engineer sitting up front to seize control of the vehicle if anything goes awry. It goes to show that, even if the technology is supposedly ready, manufacturers and companies aren’t quite ready to jump off the deep end yet.  As humanity enters these uncharted waters, it is important to protect yourself and your family like never before. Whether you’re planning on purchasing a car that utilizes some autonomous driving functions tomorrow, or you plan on being one of the first people to summon a robotic taxi that replaces the stereotypical cab driver with a cheery artificial computer voice, you have to be ready for the possibility that something can go wrong.

No matter what the issue is, the legal professionals at Altman & Altman LLP will be ready. As new laws are drawn up and new precedents are set regarding driverless vehicles, we will always stay on top of the changing legal landscape to ensure our promise to assist any clients that come to us looking for help.  Although we don’t have decades of experience litigating driverless car cases, we do have over 40 years of experience litigating every kind of car crash, negligence suit, and wrongful injury or death incident imaginable. We offer free consultations as well, so please call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.

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