It's very likely you've seen one of the many news headlines touting the rapid development of self driving vehicles. Companies like Google, Ford, GM, and others are working towards making vehicles that require no human control at all, and they're getting close to a product good enough to be sold to consumers.
Just last year, in March of 2015, Delphi successfully completed the world’s first 3500-mile cross-country trip of an autonomous vehicle, and did so safely, with no incidents or collisions. This was achieved with a modified Audi SQ5. There were several people in the car the entire time, monitor the journey and how well the new tech performed in a variety of traffic scenarios. Even though it wasn't ever a problem, there was someone in the drivers seat, ready to take the wheel if need be.
Ford has made the prediction that within 5 years, at least one company will have a self driving vehicle ready for sale. With four years left to go on that time line, it's seems as though it might happen even sooner than previously imagined.
The current best selling electric car in the US, Tesla's Model S, had an available upgrade that allows for computer assisted driving. It's not full-form autonomous driving, but it's very close. The drive can let of the wheel, and the car can brake, accelerate, steer, and even change lanes without any input from the driver at all. It's suspected that the ability for these cars to become fully autonomous is nothing more than a software update away, but with many states not having clear laws on the subject, the manufacturer is playing it safe, and keeping within the confines of the laws that are currently in place.
Which then raises the question about what laws will be needed when more of these self-driving vehicles become available. What happens when there's an accident? Who is at fault? Is the person behind the wheel held responsible, even though he or she wasn't the one controlling the vehicle? Or is it the fault of the manufacturer, who wrote the software that was driving the car? These aren't questions that the law has answered yet, and there will be a lot of debate over how these situations should be handled.
Admittedly, to date, there has only been one single accident involving an autonomous vehicle, and was a collision between one of Google's AV test ...