A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the... A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA (AP).
Unintended consequences abound when it comes to emerging technology, and self-driving cars are no exception. Numerous ethical and legal dilemmas associated with autonomous vehicles are currently being explored and have been well documented, but it seems there is one drawback that has been missing from the conversation: where are we going to get our extra organs?

It sounds like a dark question, but consider this: car accidents kill 3,287 people every day in the U.S., and self-driving cars should drastically reduce that number. Google's autonomous car, for example, has traveled more than 700,000 miles on California roadways with only one accident, and that one involved a human being behind the wheel at the time. Fatal auto accidents supply the majority of donor organs, but 18 people a day still die waiting for a transplant, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. So what will happen when there are even less body parts to go around?

The high-tech problem could have a high-tech solution. Bre Pettis, founder of the 3-D printing company Makerbot, told Fortune that 3-D printable organs will have to follow in the self-driving car revolution's wake.

"We have this huge problem that we sort of don't talk about, that people die all the time from car accidents. It's kind of insane," Pettis told Fortune. "But the most interesting thing is, if we can reduce accidents and deaths, then we actually have a whole other problem on our hands of, 'Where do we get organs?' I don't think we'll actually be printing organs until we solve the self-driving car issue. The next problem will be organ replacement."

Pettis says the hardware is capable of rolling out human hearts, livers or any other organ needed. But, creating the chemical substances capable of coming together to create such organs is still a major mountain scientists continue to work on conquering.


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