Self-driving vehicles have become a cultural and political phenomenon. To peruse the breathless headlines is, like a ride in Marty McFly’s DeLorean, to experience the sensation of visiting a wondrous future. Millions of hours previously wasted in traffic, searching for a parking spot or waiting in line at the DMV, will be restored to us, while we sit back in our passenger seats, dine, work or watch movies as robots whisk us around. It’s a world in which there are virtually no car accidents, because infallible computers will replace impatient, emotional, tired, distracted, all too error-prone human beings.

And, wondrously, there will be no need to write another check to the auto insurance company. In the highly unlikely event that anything goes wrong, the robot car manufacturers will stand behind their products and pick up the tab, no questions asked.

Not so fast...

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