Driverless cars are in the process of becoming a reality and it is a matter of time before they are a mainstream product. These car are pre-programmed to make certain decisions in the case of imminent danger. For example they may choose to crash in order to avoid hitting someone. While not being completely familiar with the programming involved it is my understanding based on a news program that in certain situations the vehicle may not allow the driver to override the programming, such as in situations of imminent threat to life.

My question is when a driverless car damages who is responsible the owner or the company? I understand that generally when a person owns something it is her responsibility to guard it and prevent it from causing damage, however that may not be possible in this case. Furthermore usually when a person buys something they own and are in full control of it, however with this item the company continues to have a certain amount of control over the item even after the sale.

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    Interesting. But (serious question): how is your driverless car different from your ox? He is also pre-programmed to do certain things but doesn't always do as planned.
    – mbloch
    Dec 31, 2017 at 3:55
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    There is a very interesting interview on the topic with R Moshe Navon, Director of engineering at Mobileye (the driverless car software company bouth by Intel for 15.5bn$) on the Headlines podcast here
    – mbloch
    Dec 31, 2017 at 3:56
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/73461
    – msh210
    Dec 31, 2017 at 4:26
  • @mbloch The question as I understand, asks about multi-side interaction, where the manufacturer's responsibility continues alongside the owner's. I agree, that in case where there are no other sides, like insurance, state laws, sale agreement, manufacturer's warranty etc, the autonomous car is not different from an ox and the owner will be liable for all the damage.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 31, 2017 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


To put it VERY simple:
Driving any car is a subject to the "Dina deMalchutah" monetary laws.

Every purchase / leasing / renting of a car is a contract between the driver, the company/ies (incl insurance) and the state. As such, anything agreed and signed becomes de-jure backed by the Torah laws.

NB: You may ask this question in a theoretical "contract-less" society, but I can not think of one.
You may also ask this question about the insurance company - if one hits someone - is he liable or the insurance company, etc.

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    Questions of hoshen mishpat are relevant. While local law may also be relevant, that doesn't render halakha irrelevant. Furthermore, even if a question of mazik weren't practically applicable it hardly invalidates the question.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 31, 2017 at 19:38
  • @mevaqesh Dina deMalchuta, being an explicit agreement between all sides incl. all people of the state, overrides any halakha of Choshen Mishpat. Prove me otherwise.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 31, 2017 at 20:56
  • First of all, even if you were right about din dmalkuta, this still isnt answer, as a haklakhic question is absolutely legitimate even if examples of its application are rare. Second of all, that isnt how the site works. The onus of proof is on you to prove your posts; not others to disprove them. This post does not demonstrate that there is a principle called dina dmalkhuta dina. It does not define and clarify the nature of this rule. It does not demonstrate which cases it is relevant to, etc.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 31, 2017 at 21:20
  • @mevaqesh 1. Why so hard to say "You are right about Dina deMalchuta"? 2. D"D is THE HALAKHAH! You won't find any better solution withing the halakha, the agreement will override any other halakhos. 3. I'm not to explain what it is, I just give a practical halakhic solution - EVERYTHING that's agreed on holds halakhicly. Period.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 31, 2017 at 22:33
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    Because I don't know the answer. Merely knowing that this is wrong doesn't automatically enable to know the answer. If you agree to remove this post if I cite sources that it is false, I will post sources. Otherwise I see no point.
    – mevaqesh
    Jan 1, 2018 at 14:59

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