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Can a self-driving car be negligent? A motorcyclist allegedly injured by one says yes

Can a self-driving car be negligent? A motorcyclist allegedly injured by one says yes
[Photo: courtesy of Cruise Automotion]

In one of the first–but surely not the last–lawsuits filed against a self-driving car, a California motorcyclist is accusing an autonomous car of negligent driving after injuring him in a crash.

Oscar Willhelm Nilsson’s lawsuit against General Motors claims that he was injured when a Cruise AV swerved into his lane. The car hit him, leaving him injured and unable to work, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco this week. The Washington Post points out that the San Francisco Police Department’s report blames Nilsson for the incident. He allegedly tried to pass a vehicle before it was safe, while the self-driving car was just doing its thing and following the rules like a good little robot unaware that some human on a motorcycle was going to try and pass.

Unfortunately for self-driving cars and the companies that make them, it’s a messy human world that the robot cars have to live in. There have been at least 54 autonomous vehicle accident reports since 2014, most of them minor accidents in which human drivers were at fault. Self-driving cars are only going to become more common, though, and cases like this will help define who will take responsibility when humans inevitability mess up.ML