Should People Be Allowed to Drink and "Drive" Self-Driving Cars?

Illustration for article titled Should People Be Allowed to Drink and "Drive" Self-Driving Cars?

Autonomous cars are coming soon, people, maybe as soon as 2015 if you live in California. And with them will be a whole set of new rules and regulations when it comes to driving. Or, ahem, not driving.


This will obviously be a gargantuan task, spanning issues related to privacy, security, safety, and, of course, liability. California's Department of Motor Vehicles held a summit last week attended by automakers and tech companies to get their input on some of the proposed regulations. But they're also opening the conversation up to the public. A draft proposal will be posted this summer and anyone will be able to weigh in on the new laws.

One of the most critical issues to be tackled by the new regulations is drinking. Self-driving cars could potentially eradicate drunk driving—which would be awesome. But it also raises some questions.

Obviously you are not allowed to drink and then drive a car. But can you drink and "drive" a self-driving car? Does there still need to be designated non-driver at the "wheel"? Someone must need to be lucid enough to punch in proper navigational information, right? Will your car have a pre-programmed "home" button? And for the cars which allow you to switch between manual and autonomous, how will your car know the difference? A steering-wheel mounted breathalyzer? What do you think? Leave your ideas below! [GovTech]



I think what will happen is there will end up being 2 modes of travel. First would be attended mode where there is a driver available and ready to jump in in case of trouble. This mode would be allowed for highway travel, high risk travel, etc where something could go catastrophically wrong. The second mode would be unattended mode where there is not a person right there to jump in. In this mode speed would be restricted, the roads you could travel on would be limited, and the risk would have to be low.