With the autonomous car revolution edging closer, three of the major corporations have claimed they’d take full responsibility for accidents caused as a result of technological errors.
Volvo, Google and Mercedes-Benz all reported their intentions last week in an effort to speed up the legal framework involved with self-driving cars.
“Volvo wants to remove the uncertainty of who would be responsible in the event of a crash,” Ben Gardener, a solicitor at Pinsent Masons, an international law firm, told BBC. “At the moment it could be the manufacturer of the technology, the driver, a maker of a component in a car.”
Car makers are hopeful that the technology can be ready for mass production as early as 2020, but legal uncertainties are still far behind. Only a few states allow the cars to be tested on public roads, and even then restrictions vary. Volvo believes the U.S. risks losing its leading position if it fails to set better federal regulations for testing and certification of the technology.
“The absence of national Federal oversight in the US runs the risk of slowing down the development and introduction of autonomous driving technologies by making it extremely difficult for car makers to test, develop and sell AD cars,” Volvo said in a press release.
Human error accounts for 90 percent of road accidents, and one idea behind the self-driving car is to reduce the number of total accidents. Volvo CTO Erik Coelingh said the technology “will never be perfect,” and that accidents will occur. Another question for lawmakers to consider is who will be blamed when hackers inevitably hijack the technology.
“We are constantly evolving defensive software to counter the risks associated with hacking a car,” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said, while adding that hacking incidents should be blamed on the hacker.
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