A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) concludes that humans will still be responsible for driving chores even as driverless cars are introduced to the highways.
The report was paid for by State Farm insurance company and written by Jim Hedlund, a former senior official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Researchers looked at how autonomous vehicles will function based on different levels of technology and the fact that the newest driverless cars will be sharing the roads with older vehicles that lack autonomy.
According to the report, researchers concluded what others have as well: Self-driving cars will eventually help cut down on crash incidents, but multiple issues must be addressed before that can happen.
The GHSA examined potential problems and how those problems should be addressed as well as who or what will be at fault in certain situations.
For example, automakers and the government should consider the possibility of an unlicensed driver starting a driverless car without the driver having the knowledge to take control of the car if necessary.
There are also concerns about criminals who could bring a self-driving car to a stop to rob the passengers and how the cars will respond to police commands.
Other issues are mentioned in the report, including how autonomous technology will decide if the car should hit a pedestrian or swerve into an obstacle. In other words, the car must decide if it should take out a jogger in exchange for slamming into a parked truck where the driverless car occupants could be killed.
Then there are further determinations to be made about who or what is at fault and whether the driver or the car should be blamed legally.
Researchers are also concerned by mistakes humans make when behind the wheel of vehicles equipped with semi-autonomous features. There are legitimate concerns about consumers buying cars with certain levels of autonomy so the drivers can read a cell phone or perform other tasks while driving.
Real-life examples have already occurred with the death of an Arizona woman struck and killed by an Uber self-driving car. Video of the crash showed the driver looking down and away from the road at the time of the crash.