Even as autonomous technology continues to make its way from prototypes to street-legal vehicles, legislators and lawmakers are still working to define the rules and liabilities for self-driving cars.
In the meantime, one carmaker is taking a resolved stance on the matter:
“Volvo will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode,” the company recently announced.
Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, addressed the issue last week through a released statement and a Washington D.C. seminar titled, “A Future with Self Driving Cars – Is it Safe?”
“The U.S. is currently the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving,” stated Volvo, “but this position could be eroded if a national framework for regulation and testing is not developed.”
Because no well-defined nationwide regulations on autonomous vehicles exist in the U.S., Samuelsson noted that the carmakers aren’t left with clear guidelines on which technologies are acceptable and what test methods can be used.
“The U.S. risks losing its leading position due to the lack of federal guidelines for the testing and certification of autonomous vehicles,” said Samuelsson. “Europe has suffered to some extent by having a patchwork of rules and regulations. It would be a shame if the U.S. took a similar path to Europe in this crucial area.”
“The absence of one set of rules means carmakers cannot conduct credible tests to develop cars that meet all the different guidelines of all 50 U.S. states,” he added. “If we are to ensure a smooth transition to autonomous mobility then together we must create the necessary framework that will support this.”
Samuelsson said he wants legislators and auto companies to work cohesively to create these parameters. Though he didn’t say all carmakers should take an upfront approach, Samuelsson did say that Volvo “will accept full liability” for accidents due to autonomous mode or third-party hacking.
What isn’t clear is how this will translate into coverage in the event that a self-driving Volvo causes an crash.