Moreover, "Law enforcement (and the converse — criminality) may be transformed. Can driverless cars be hacked to make kidnapping much simpler? Or packed with explosives to be turned into self-guided bombs? Or simply used as high-speed getaways cars, which will permit the bad guys to shoot at the police while the car navigates its high-speed escape? (To avoid these problems, will we relinquish our right to privacy, permitting our cars to be monitored and our locations always known?)"
Then there's the revolution in liability law brought on by driverless cars:
Needless to say, driverless cars will transport product liability law into a brave new world. Let’s assume that driverless cars are remarkably safe: Instead of the 30,000+ people who now die annually in car accidents in the United States, suppose driverless cars result in a mere 10,000 deaths every year. And assume that the public accepts — as logic dictates, but emotion may not — that saving 20,000 lives per year is an improvement, so driverless cars should be endorsed. Who would bear the cost of those 10,000 fatal accidents? Vehicle owners? Or users? Or manufacturers?Grits had a pair of related posts last year wondering aloud how driverless cars might affect law enforcement and the criminal justice system generally. In particular, since most police interactions with the public occur at traffic stops, what will cops do with themselves once there are no more traffic scofflaws to pull over? The era of the pretext stop will have come to an end.
Can we blame the mechanic who repaired a driverless car a few weeks before the crash? Or the hobbyist who got under the hood of his car and tinkered with it?
Already the key elements of driverless cars are being implemented in increments. I've seen TV ads for cars that parallel park themselves. According to the latest issue of Popular Mechanics presently sitting on my coffee table, "At speeds of up to 30 mph" the 2015 Subaru Legacy "automatically brakes if a collision is imminent." For the most part I think these changes will be positive, certainly as measured in driver safety. But there will be growing pains and, when the transformation takes place in earnest, it will be as disruptive as anything to law enforcement since the invention of the V-8 engine. You read it here first.