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Introduction of autonomous vehicles may be slow

North Carolina motorists may have heard a great deal from industry leaders like Google and Tesla about the development of autonomous vehicles. Early predictions about their adoption have been optimistic. For example, in 2014, one analyst with Morgan Stanley predicted there would be fully autonomous vehicles on highways by 2019. A former Uber CEO said that by 2030 its fleet would be fully autonomous. Multiple car manufacturers said autonomous vehicles would be for sale by the end of the decade.

However, there are a number of reasons these predictions may not be correct. Autonomous vehicles have some significant hurdles to overcome. One is the public's reluctance to pay more for them. Much larger challenges surround legal and regulatory issues, and ethical issues may be the largest challenge of all. One question developers must address is what decision an autonomous car will make with a choice between hurting its occupants, another car or an innocent bystander. There are also issues around complex data and mapping.

Although there is also a public perception that autonomous vehicles are less safe, this is not necessarily the case. Human error is responsible for the vast majority of motor vehicle accidents. Autonomous vehicles make far fewer errors, and furthermore, more autonomous vehicles can fit on the road because they need less space between them.

It is likely that autonomous cars will be few and car accidents will continue to happen too frequently for at least the next several years. These accidents may be the result of driving while fatigued, texting and driving, drunk driving or other negligent actions. If a person is seriously injured in an accident with one of these negligent drivers and does not receive sufficient compensation to cover medical costs and other expenses, the next step might be a lawsuit.

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