Many people express disappointment that the future takes so long to get here and that people are not driving spaceships or visiting the moon One aspect of the bright future, autonomous cars, is at least a topic of discussion, with a few prototypes in use.

What, though, is the future of self-driving cars and what sort of issues, legal and otherwise, do they present?

The future is still a ways off

A New York Times article reports that the expected arrival of self-driving cars in 2019 is likely to occur many years later. The entire process of creating safe autonomous vehicles faces many obstacles, including costs and engineering challenges. Ford and Volkswagen recently combined efforts to improve the technology of self-driving cars. They have set 2021 as the time that ride-sharing services in a few urban zones will begin. The companies cite human behavior as one large problem. Unexpected situations arise on the roadways, such as pedestrians and bicyclists acting irrationally, which makes it difficult to program the new cars for every eventuality.

The impact of accidents

NBC News reported the death of a pedestrian in Arizona caused by a Uber self-driving car in 2018. The car did not have the capacity to recognize a jaywalker, according to federal safety investigators. The car traveled at 40 mph in autonomous mode with an operator in the driver’s seat. The car could only identify a pedestrian when located in or near a crosswalk. The car’s safety operator watched a streaming TV show at the time of the accident. The family of the killed pedestrian settled out of court with Uber.