Graduate students from the University of Michigan are currently engaged in a twisted role-playing game, where they attempt to cope with the media backlash following various failures of self-driving cars. The exercise is intended to help them understand the pitfalls associated with autonomous tech and how to best respond when it goes terribly awry — something automakers will also have to go through as self-driving vehicles become more prevalent.
Broken into teams of four, 30 groups across the Ann Arbor campus were confronted with a pretend automated tragedy last night. The details were delivered to them in much the same way they would have been to a real manufacturer: through phone calls, emails, social media, and in-person meetings.
They have until tonight to mitigate the fallout from the incident, generating business solutions in a faux 24-hour news cycle.
The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I felt that at any second, things might switch to black and white and Rod Serling would step out from behind one of the backdrops.
I wasn’t in the Twilight Zone, though. I was on a gentle hillside on the north side of Ann Arbor.
Automotive News reports General Motors’ attorney Kenneth Feinberg met with Texas attorney Robert Hilliard at the former’s office within the Beltway to begin preliminary discussions over the claims of the latter’s 300-plus clients affected by the ignition switch recall. During the talk, no agreements were reached regarding compensation, while Hilliard viewing the first meeting as GM’s way of convincing him that it would do “the right thing” by his clients. Feinberg states he is gathering proposals for a compensation program similar to the one he orchestrated for 9/11 victims and victims of other major disasters, and should have a package ready within the next few weeks at the latest.
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