Back in July, in an article on recalls of electronic and safety systems, we asked “When your car gets to truly driving itself, will this mean that the manufacturer will then hold accident liability?”
Now Volvo has stepped up with the answer, and stepped up big time.
According to Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, the U.S. risks losing its leading global position in the development of self-driving cars if it allows a patchwork of varying state laws and regulations.
However, in what almost seems like an afterthought, Samuelsson added that Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode. The details remain to be worked out – such as how the insurance industry will view this development and whether the driver will be assigned some liability, but Volvo is urging these and other issues be addressed sooner rather than later.
The company is concerned that legal uncertainties could delay the launch of autonomous vehicles. In a speech at a high level seminar on self-driving cars organized by Volvo Cars and the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC, he said “the U.S. is currently the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving, but this position could be eroded if a national framework for regulation and testing is not developed.”
“The absence of one set of rules means car makers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 U.S. states,” he said. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.” Samuelsson also urged regulators to work closely with car makers to solve outstanding liability issues from autonomous driving as well as from hacking “by a criminal third party”.
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